“Chris Pickering may not sound like Harry Nilsson, Carole King or Graham Nash, but he makes me feel the same way as when I listen to those artists. Just feels good.
- Jody Stephens, Big Star*
“Like country Badfinger.”
– Terry Roland, No Depression Magazine**
This story starts somewhere around here: in 2008 Chris Pickering decided to pack his bags and guitar, and relocate to one of the most competitive music cities in the world, Nashville, Tennessee. It was working and recording in Nashville that began to shape the future direction of his own unique songwriting style, a style that is to be found all through his latest releases, the EP Corners, and the release of his latest album Canyons in August 2016. This album contains all new material recorded in the United States in Nashville, TN, and Joshua Tree, CA.
The five years that Chris spent in Nashville were a pivotal point in his evolution as a songwriter, the results of which will be become apparent on his new album, Canyons. Whilst in Nashville he befriended and played alongside many of the finest up-and-coming crop of songwriters and performers in Nashville, including Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, Kelsey Waldon, Caitlin Rose, Cale Tyson, Kelsey Waldon, and numerous others. The album is the result of recordings that have been made at Bomb Shelter in Nashville, and Hicksville Studios in Joshua Tree, CA. Accordingly, Chris engaged the services of producer Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes) and up-and-coming Australian producer and artist Adrian Mauro (Machine Age) to help administer the final touches to his latest work.
As with many of Chris’s recordings, he plays almost all the instrumentation on the album, with guest appearances from fellow Nashville musicians and band-members (Caitlin Rose, Mark Fredson, Grant ‘Big Smokey’ Johnson, and Michael Flanders), and Australian collaborators too (Ben Tolliday, Savannah Jo Lack, Chloe Turner).
The title track from the new album, 'Canyons', was released as a single in July 2015, and garnered a positive reception and airplay on community radios and the ABC and Double J network around the country. The album ‘Canyons’ was released in August 2016 and has been steadily racking up acclaim around the country for its combination of cosmic psychedelia and well-crafted pop songwriting. Here are just a few notable quotes:
“…a grand Americana vista. The twang of guitar lands smack between surf and prairie…Unhurried, welcoming of light and space…From thrilling cyclonic peaks to languid trickles of spring rain.”
- Chris Lambie, Rhythms Magazine, May 2017.
“A melding of warm desert-rock with tinges of old country…heavy on the guitars, floating vocals, pedal steel and a smattering of strings. There's a shimmer to songs like Canyons…its guitar line carrying a subtle '60s surf motif as the steel moves in the background like heat-haze off bitumen, Pickering's voice swirling with it.”
- Samuel J Fell, Sydney Morning Herald, November 2016.
“A Morriconeesque guitar line at the beginning of the opening title track [Canyons] suggests the scope of Pickering’s vision and his impressive skill. He is capable of almost singlehandedly creating captivating music in a variety of styles. His influences are impeccable: Neil Young comes to mind when his guitar goes into overdrive, Paul McCartney when the melodies get under your skin, Big Star with his DIY pop sensibility and even Rufus Wainwright at times.”
- Polly Coufous, The Australian, December 2016.
“…[a] union of classic pop arrangements and dusty, atmospheric desert rock.”
- Steve Bell, Rhythms Magazine, November 2016.
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*Quote from email (June 2010) between Jody Stephens and Chris Pickering Management after a recording session at Ardent Studios in December 2009.
**Quote from “Chris Pickering’s Music is a Seamless Work of Art”, available at http://nodepression.com/article/chris-pickerings-music-work-seamless-art