Chauncey Bowers Releases 'Rumors Of Reason'

Eclectic Singer/Songwriter To Appear at Coffee Gallery Backstage, June 26, 8:00 p.m.

Published : Monday, June 16, 2014 | 6:05 PM

There’s a demon in the streets this evening, all dressed up in human skin; You can hear him growling, that’s the way he likes to call to a friend; You can lock your doors, you can bar your windows, but it’s your appetite that lets him in…–”Demon”

Metaphysical ghouls, addicts, Adam & Eve, lovers, madmen and animated musical instruments … these are the characters that people Chauncey Bowers’ debut album, Rumors of Reason. His songs make listeners think, and feel, and laugh — but the laughter has bite. It startles and awakens, and makes one wonder, “Who is this guy?”

Like his songwriting heroes Randy Newman and John Prine, Bowers is fascinated by the darker vagaries of human nature. These fifteen tracks showcase his penchant for guiding listeners through bizarre everyday episodes. Take, for example, “Something to Cry About,” and its murderous protagonist: “You hear something funny but it’s all in your head/ … If those voices stop talking/ Does that mean you’re dead?” Or the folk-rock groove of “God Bless Your Children” that lulls with a false sense of comfort as its aging protagonist vows: “I believe in the raging righteous/ And I believe there’s love in soldiers and whores.” Or the cartoon humor of “Stray Trombone,” in which a low-rent thief tries selling a tall tale to cops while bluesy riffs suggest Jessica Rabbit might slink around the corner.

Transforming a basic observation of physical fact into poetic humor is typical of Bowers’ songwriting skill. “It’s funny how songs happen,” he says. “I’m in control for maybe the first half of a song, and then I’m just trying to finish the song without thinking too much about what I meant to do. It doesn’t sound authentic if you’re just trying to cram in what you wanted it to be.”

“It’s like exploring. Even if you’re putting this up as another person, you’re still finding images in yourself. You go in, see what’s there, come out and report back. Sometimes you find your inner child, sometimes you find your inner psychopath. Either way, you report.”

His meticulous test-and-question approach reflects his past work as a research scientist. His songs probe and examine subjects from unexpected angles, contemplating their inherent properties. But they’re also informed by the earthy wit of the Allman Brothers-loving Georgia boy who apprenticed to a shady repo man, before he left the South’s dualistic culture for the bohemian enclave of Cambridge.

Flash forward to 2009, when he found himself stepping away from his job and remembering how much he loved writing songs and playing guitar. After much encouragement from new friends and fans in the Los Angeles songwriting community, he recorded and released Rumors of Reason.

“If you think about theory too much when you’re writing, you lose this thing you’re trying to get in the first place. “Someone asked Einstein (perhaps this is apocryphal) — ‘Is it true you could express Beethoven’s Fifth as a series of wave equations?’ He said, `Yeah, but why would you?’”

Bowers will appear at Coffee Gallery Backstage on Thursday, June 26 at 8:00pm. Opening the show will be Wicked Saints. Address is 2029 N. Lake Ave. Altadena. Reservations are recommended. More information at http://coffeegallery.com or by calling the venue at (626) 798-6236.

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