On the first new release since his 2008 debut, Chuck Wicks delivers up a quick blast of summertime soul with a remarkably seasoned delivery. The five-song EP Rough, which is available now, wastes no time as Chuck jumps right in to cover the good times, the bad times and offer a couple thoughts on everlasting love.
In many ways it’s easy to forget that Rough really is only Chuck’s second release. The man who scored a Top 5 hit in 2007 with his first single, “Stealing Cinderella,” kept his profile up with pursuits including his role as a contestant on the hit television competition Dancing with the Stars. It’s also easy to forget that Rough is a sophomore release because it comes across with such a confident, veteran approach.
The syncopated vocal rhythm on, “Always,” a ¾-time power ballad driven by piano, features a circular slow-fast melody where each line feeds into the next. Tell me, I’m not alone down on / one knee, he sings with a rich tone, looking for validation. However, his clear command of the song and the direction he wishes to take it emotionally need no reassurance. “Fix Me,” an uptempo epic full of strong guitar, follows Chuck’s lead as subtle shifts take the song in new directions. Transforming the song’s feel with drops and bends, Chuck ushers in a charging chorus with his impressively soulful inflections.
There’s plenty of easy soul on Rough that shows off Chuck’s consistent delivery. “Whole Damn Thing” is a ¾-time electric ballad that comes off as a somewhat more contemporary country David Nail. Surrounded by ascending slide guitar, he sings, She’s a bit of rain and a lot of fire, with tenderness and an intimate understanding that relays the track’s loving feel. Chuck co-wrote every song on the EP and lines like these reinforce the talent first heard on “Stealing Cinderella.”
“Saturday Afternoon” and “Salt Life” round out the collection with a dose of sunshine ready for summer. The former pairs programmed island rhythms with a simple acoustic guitar melody to create a beach vibe lining up perfectly with lyrics about grabbing six-packs at the Kwik Sak. And on “Salt Life,” which closes out the project, deep steady bass anchors a standout midtempo sing-along just happy that it’s summertime at the beach. The tune’s laidback tempo carries an optimistic feel that serves as a fitting end to the EP as Chuck himself leaves a lasting impression long after the track fades out.