Growing up on the banks of the upper Mississippi, Chris McGarry spent his earliest years absorbing the culture and mystique of the places that river touched. In college he immersed himself in the field recordings available through the Smithsonian Folkways collection and fed his own creativity with the music that served as the backbone of most American music since.
After moving to Denver for a change of scenery, McGarry played around in bluegrass circles before setting out to write his own music and tell his own stories. His debut album, And The Weary Eyes Reply reflects McGarry's clear roots in that Americana music that inspired him in school. But it is also a statement of a young man coming of age and trying to find his way and discovering a clear sense of self.
In 2011, McGarry put together a solid line-up of musicians and so Chris McGarry and The Insomniacs was born. With the Insomniacs, McGarry's songwriting has matured and his new EP reveals that full adulthood may bring with it a comfort with being oneself but that reaching that plateau makes you want to travel and explore with a genuinely expansive spirit rather than mere impulse.
With a sound both pastoral and rich, Chris McGarry and The Insomniacs sets itself apart as a group not by sounding like they've co-opted a popular sound of the moment. Rather, this band's music and words resonate with a simple, but not simplistic, honesty.
Album also available at Denver-area local record stores: Wax Trax Records and Twist and Shout Records.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a bottle of whiskey-rye. You are down to your last drops of sweet Tennessee life, and that relentless cowboy whose got you by the neck shows no sign of slowing his drinkin' pace.
Soon, as a bottle of whiskey, you will be gone; a forgetful part of a heartbroken cowboy's past, and just as he has done to so many of your bottled brethren before, he is going to toss you in a ditch to be forgotten and most likely pick up another bottle. You will left there, an empty shell of your former self, a littered soul on the side of the cowboy's road on which he is Brooklyn bound.
Setting up this image of low-down despair is imperative to understanding the ambiance of And the Weary Eyes Reply, the debut album from Chris McGarry. For the album, McGarry plays the role of a downtrodden but soulful drifter, musing his way through nine powerful tracks of existential pondering and superb blues-based country arrangements. Not twelve seconds into "This Heathen City" McGarry has already accused the sun of heresy (for interrupting the practices of the night); and throughout the vaudevillian-inspired, self-loathing anthem "Tear Me Down" Chris battles with the concept of being torn apart (physically or mentally?) only to be made "into something I never been before."
Throughout the lyrically-rich And the Weary Eyes Reply, McGarry reestablishes the lost art of story-songs. Each vignette of music offers its own tale, and the album paints a portrait of Americana through classic instrumentation (driving banjos, warm acoustic guitars), inventive melodies, and McGarry's vocals that bend like the road and possess just enough of that old-soul "twang" to implore you to check the copyright date on his album.