Chris Sabatino – Maybe Not This Time
You may not have heard of Chris Sabatino yet, but this lowdown, rural rocker has already released three EPs in a thirteen year musical career! It’s always an awesome experience to discover a new artist and find out that they have been at it a long, long time you were never privy to. For me, that was my experience with Sabatino’s latest EP, Maybe Not This Time. This EP is a little blues, a little country, a little hard rock and a little pop, wrapped up into one exciting package that delivers more often than not.
“Rockstar” sets the tone and it’s the most energetic track of the five tunes included complete with soaring pop chorus and verses that have more than a few vodka-loaded snakebites in ‘em. Chris has a sneer to his voice that doesn’t really sound like anybody else. Johnny Cash is mentioned in his press sheet and, really, that’s not a ridiculous comparison. He’s got that rumble in his voice even when plucking out a pretty acoustic part which transitions into more full-blown rockin’ led by a sturdy rhythm and rising tides of guitar distortion. It’s not the hardest rock you’ve ever heard, but he’s bringing plenty of power on this cut and it ends up a standout because of it.
Darker and drearier, “Garbage” is a real tale of abandonment. Sabatino sure isn’t pleased with somebody leaving him in the lurch and now he’s taking his musical revenge. The guitars are mostly acoustic with brushstrokes of keyboard and distorted riffing adding more color to the canvas. He hits a nice, pyrotechnic lead before the track closes with the rhythms picking up in pace and power as well. It’s another very solid tune. “Escape” is a barren, desolate track that could benefit from a climax. The rhythm section is in charge for much of the song, laying a death-feigned groove down with aplomb while slight washes of rock guitar check in on the action from time to time. Sabatino’s vocals are emotionally strong, but feel buried in the mix and, despite the welcome desperation of the track, it could benefit from a climax or a bit of a rise somewhere in its context. Chris molds similar clay on “Here with Me”, but layers more guitar work on top and enough gallops in the tempo to keep things exciting. That same “all hope is lost” aesthetic is still present, yet this time it finds its footing and focus with a captivating acoustic presence. Returning to the straightforward rock heard in the chorus of “Rockstar,” the final cut “You’re the Only One” climbs itself out of the gutter for a twang-y guitar rocker. The licks and fire are there in spades though, and something about the mixture of sparsity and groove calls to mind the great works of Neil Young.
Chris Sabatino definitely has carved himself a granite slab of an EP that’s mostly of high quality. Sometimes, his tunes need a bit more drama and musical passages to further spice things up, but in the end Maybe Not This Time is a winner worthy of your attention.
7 out of 10 stars.