Charles Esten - Love Ain't Pretty
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Love Ain't Pretty (Self-released, 2024)

Charles Esten

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Charlie Esten is known playing ace guitarist Deacon Claybourne on the ABC hit show "Nashville." Esten has been acting and playing music under the radar long before he was cast in the show and developed an indie following that culminated in the release of his debut album.

"Love Ain't" Pretty" is an ambitious, 14-track effort where Esten co-wrote all of the songs. Thematically, he tapped into the universal phenomenon of love in all its facets and tackling the difficult aspects of the universal emotion rather than just the storybook version.

The opening track will catch the listener's ear by delivering a true country sound plus a little gloss on Esten's signature baritone. That makes for an uncanny ability to make the title track feel like it needs a question mark after it to comprehend the complexity of the task.

The order of the tracks makes for a fluent feel and allows for the hard rocking "I Ain't," which sounds like a Brantley Gilbert song. He is an excellent guitarist and equally adept at delivering ballads, namely his favorite "Somewhere in the Sunshine."

He confessed that the only reason he got to play the Ryman was because he was Deacon Claybourne. With albums like this, it seems not too far fetched that he may have his own name on the hallowed stage someday.

CDs by Charles Esten

Love Ain't Pretty, 2024

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