Big Stir Records is proud to announce our first major album release of 2022: Darling Please from celebrated North Carolina singer-songwriter Chris Church. Recorded eleven years ago and seeing full-scale release for the first time in a newly remastered version (courtesy of audio maestro Nick Bertling and adorned with newly tracked backing vocals from Lindsay Murray of Gretchen’s Wheel), the album is out on CD and digital January 21 and features the lead single “Bad Summer”. It’s up for preorder at www.bigstirrecords.com, www.bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com, and on sale everywhere music is sold or streamed on the release date.
The new record sees the genre-hopping Chris Church in full on rock and roll mode, with dominant Crazy Horse-style guitars topped with some of the most immediate and aching vocal performances in Chris Church catalog. The emotionally direct and often elegiac tone of Darling Please derived in large part from its origins: “I made the album in my basement studio,” says Chris Church. “It was and is dedicated with love to my late great brother Mike Church, who’d passed not long prior to my decision to start this project. It was actually the first time I’d played all instruments on an entire album.” The self-produced ethic makes the album a forerunner to last year’s acclaimed, home-recorded Game Dirt, but Darling Please is if anything even more visceral.
Opening with the rough, ready and stately “History” and diving directly into the “Satisfaction”-beat rocker “We’re Going Downtown,” the album pays overt and indirect tribute to Mike Church (who’d played drums on most of Chris’s earlier music) on a number of tracks. The Sugar-inflected “Pillar To Post” finds the singer feeling “like a guest and a host, like taking a walk with my own ghost” while Chris Church describes the loping “Never So Far Away” as “my legit attempt to bridge loss and love, the big struggles, mortality, how the same old stuff still surprises us no matter how repetitive.” “We Could Pretend” channels “all of what it takes to cope… The hugeness is empty, and vice versa” over a “Cinnamon Girl” groove, and closing track “Triple Crown” sees Chris Church on the drums, recreating Mike’s restrained approach from live performances of the song.
Elsewhere, the empathetic backing vocals of Lindsay Murray (who also designed the sleeve art) illuminate the choruses of the single “Bad Summer” and the whole of “Atlantic”. Both tunes are sharp and heartfelt character studies derived from Chris Church’s circle of friends at the time. “I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry” opens with a guitar and piano workout that sets the stage for one of the album’s most indelible choruses, again spotlighting Murray. And “Nepenthean” dives into psychedelic sludge to immersive effect.
Gripping and emotive, Darling Please is a belated but essential addition to the Chris Church catalog, following on the heels of the 2021 relaunches of his SpyderPop Records albums Backwards Compatible and Limitations of Source Tape. More than a relic, it’s a rewardingly rough-hewn gem deserving of inspection and a sincere tribute to a musical and familial brother, and it stands among Chris Church’s very best.