One half of the long running Chicago based indie-folk duo Them Damn Kids, Chris Darby has released his first solo e.p., entitled Road Songs.
The four songs on the e.p. find Darby in fine form, accompanying his introspective folk with tasteful arrangements that help propel the upbeat songs and deepen the slower ones. Darby’s voice, however, is the thing that will grab the listener’s attention.
An uncanny resemblance to the singing of Yusef Islam (aka Cat Stevens) is probably a mixed bag of blessing and curse for Darby, but for me it’s one of the things that helps elevate both this solo project and Them Damn Kids above the wasteland of sensitive boys with acoustic guitars.
The other thing that helps distinguish Darby from the crowd is another trait he shares with Islam/Stevens – a lyrical approach that sounds both innocent and worldly at the same time. In a genre where sincerity often blurs into maudlin self-pity, Darby’s straight-forward, but life tempered optimism is refreshing and compelling.