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Chris Carmack

Pieces of You – 2015 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Chris Carmack

For a guy who is one of the stars on a show called "Nashville" one might expect its first cast member's solo record produced by Dan Fowler and recorded at Blackbird studio to be a country album. But on Chris Carmack's debut EP, "Pieces Of You" there is disproportionately less Music City influence than might be expected. Upon deeper investigation of his career, Carmack's wide range of influences includes everything from the jazz and blues he grew up playing on saxophone, to rock, pop and older country music.

The five-song collection is a diverse offering that showcases his very capable guitar skills. Vince Gill described him as "far too good of a guitar player to be an actor." The single 'Being Alone" is about having to adhere to the expectations of others. It seems to parallel his character on the show: Will Lexington, a rising young star trying to navigate his place in the industry. Relationship themes tie the record together, which Carmack acknowledges as "sometimes things which I haven't been very good at."

His range is best showcased on the second half. He cranks out a bluesy solo on the title track while the jazzy, atmospheric "What Has Changed" is well suited for the Windham Hill label and for sale at a Starbuck's counter. It morphs into a driving rocker where he soars from his baritone to an upper register that is sparsely featured on the show. Though the show's material contains a lot of pop country, Carmack released this effort independently to maintain artistic integrity.