Chet’s Chelsea Silver, Please Come Home is an album that grapples with the needs of the heart and soul. These songs are about loving someone in spite of their flaws. This is an album of love and drink.
What if I told you one of Canada’s greatest living song writers is a vineyard field hand and postal worker living in rural Western Canada? Ryan Beattie has been quietly making records in the city of Victorian (on Vancouver Island), recording both as Himalayan Bear (his solo work) and Chet, the band he formed with his brother Patrick and some friends. Chelsea Silver, Please Come Home is Chet’s fourth album in seven years and first to receive release outside of western Canada. It was recorded over a hot weekend in a barn in Victoria last summer by Colin Stewart. You can hear the warmth of the rural summer setting resonate throughout the album, the sound of the instruments hitting the fir floors as the music traveled through the hay bails used as separation for the amplifiers.
The world-weariness that drips from Ryan Beattie’s melancholy croon throughout the album is readily apparent, but repeated listens expose a strange beauty. This sweetness in his voice somehow enhances its sadness without ever seeming precious or affected. His voice swoops from a gentle tenor to a wavering falsetto and back again, changing shape but retaining the same soul.
Love as salvation, both from your own flaws and from the darkness that can surround you, is the unifying theme of the album. For Beattie, the darkness of night is the greatest of boogeymen, an ongoing theme in much of his work (Chet’s last album was named Fight Against Darkness) that symbolizes, among other things, doubt, depression, failure and loneliness. The lyric “No one bears resemblance to the night” from the albums first track “The Night The Night” tells us of his realization that morning will come to all, that the darkness will fall away to the gentle luminescence of love.
The power of love to break the darkness is again prevalent in the song “Every Night A Supper Wine”. The song is a homage to the love of writer Malcom Lowry and his wife Margerie who lived in Dollarton in North Vancouver in the 1930's. Malcom was a man who had many misgivings about the world and many demons of his own and who fell into drink with a fury. Every evening as the sun went down Malcom began to despair that the sadness and the fear was slipping back into his heart and mind. Margerie had said, "from now on we'll make it a joyous time of day, we'll oil the lamps and light them and start a fire and have a drink and toast to the night and stave off the blues" The dusk became a ritual of love and joy and the darkness was pushed away .
Chelsea Silver, Please Come Home is not a trendily dressed collection of catchy mp3’s. It’s an album of unique character whose unusual beauty unfolds further with each listen. It’s a wallflower of a record, that girl you never noticed before until the day you did and now, through new eyes, nobody will ever again be quite that beautiful.