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Drive By Review of Chris Robley's "Proper Nouns"

Proper Nouns by Chris Robley


‘Liked the hymnal quality of the “Straight White Male” opening track. Very ethereal and folksy. Spreading out like a cloud unfurling in front of the reclining living room sectional. I could feel it. I could “feel” it. The harmonies drew me in. —YES, this was a static music video, but I loved the idea that the lyrics were automatically scrolling by clicking on an adjoining tab. You see, as Chris’ music and harmonies are the hook, his lyrics are the cherry on top. But more on that later…


‘Felt the Elton John vibes from this track. ‘Loved the fragile harmonies and the lilting ladies wafting in the offing. Also, the imagery of “Paper Angels” —and their naivete that observers see so clearly, but that they cannot—and that the dark turn of the musical progression underscores.


Whimsical percussion underpinning, which was the lure. —‘Thought it was going to pronounced “Marguerite,” but more like commonly-found name “Margaret.” ‘Was digging the wash of the build at 2:30 into the song. –So far, I think this is my favorite track. “Margaret, I wish that you would.” 🎶Ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but I am all there for it.


Loved the wonky, odd random-seeming sounds that are the bottom bread layer of this song’s sandwich. It’s the gentle vocals and–dammit! –the harmonicas that sealed the deal! 🙄😬I keep thinking that I am going to tap out on this grouping of songs–as I am so wont to do–but each of these have a slightly unique character that keeps me traveling along to the next one….. “See this through to the end…” –EXACTLY what I seem to be doing….💁🏾


Here’s the last song. This is the most sparse of the bunch. While I had been wowed by all the more frenetic and quirky songs leading to this one, I am a little heartbroken by this one….but in a GOOD way. I sense that this is a song of loss, so the tears well just a little–”packing the house into boxes” certainly sounds like hurrying a parent’s things to close out an estate. Such a relatable idea for folks, like us, that I have no choice, but to know that experience.

Bottom line?

Chris likened his experience of listening to it before he released it to having a space to truly evaluate it between creating and appraising. –Again, from a fellow creator’s perspective, we can DEFINITELY relate. There’s nothing like hearing songs that you have distanced yourself from, only to find out that you really DIG the music, whomever wrote it, and knowing that it’s all the more special BECAUSE YOU wrote it.

It’s only 20 minutes’ worth of music, but it’s enough to give one a snapshot of the soul of the artist. While I know Chris from his video-making prowess, I have mad respect for him sharing his authentic creative expression every single release.

I highly recommend spending some time with these songs–ESPECIALLY when you’re feeling reflective, melancholy, hopeful, and sentimental.


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