Charlie Bonnet III – ‘Sinner With A Song’ (Self-Released) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 04:30

Sinner-With-A-Song-CD-CoverWell, he’s gotta be a good ol’ country boy, don’t he? Yessirree, with a name like thon, you gotta know exactly what to expect, dontcha? And, you know something? You’d be goddamn right, son! Charlie Bonnet III is a cowboy hat wearing, geetar slinging country singer from way down south in Tennessee, with eight albums under his belt… So, what in the name of all the gods of rock ‘n’ roll is he doing here on Über Rock? You may well ask – and I’m gonna tell y’all: he’s here ‘cos he’s only gone and teamed up with the sleaze rock god that is the one and only Tracii Guns for this ‘ere new six-track EP. So, there you are, and here we go…


The first thing I gotta say is that Bonnet is a dude who believes in keeping things honest, raw and true. You won’t find AutoTune or any of them other fancy dancy electronic studio gimmicks anywhere near this or any of his other studio output. As the man himself says: “My stuff ain’t rocket science… I’ve got a one, maybe two octave voice on a good day: I know a few chords and can play a pretty decent blues guitar lick. I’ve always been drawn to the storytelling of old country music, but I’ve never liked the over-produced feel of it: my personality leans towards more aggressive music – raw and with some attitude. I like to rock out.”


And rock out he does on this li’l sampler of his talent. One thing is for sure: this ain’t no Garth Brooks or Randy Travis dabbling in playing rock ‘n’ roll. No sir. This is a rocker at heart, brought up on a diet of Johnny Cash, Steve Earle and the Van Zandt boys. And he also possesses a rock ‘n’ roll attitude: “Judge me based upon the things you’ve heard/All second hand but that’s the way you bottom feeders work” he declares on the opening track (apparently written while he was cutting his grass – well, when else are you gonna get such inspiration?). The most overtly country of the songs herein, ‘Sinner…’ is a definite middle-finger salute to all the naysayers and trolls, with an Outlaws/Skynyrd swagger to its beat, which gets your foot stomping right from the off.


Now, we mentioned that fact that the reason UR is paying this EP any attention is the involvement of a certain Tracii Guns: it would seem fairly obvious to assume that he was drafted in to add some extra rockin’ weight in the guitar department – but nothing could be further from the truth! Guns was initially signed up to the project to mix and master the six tracks, but ended up actually playing organ on them… no, not the one you put in your mouth (and not the one that dangles between yer legs either), but one of those beautiful B3 machines. His contribution first becomes obvious on ‘Restless And Reckless’, the first of a pair of out-and-out rockers, which tear the Stetson from your head and slap you across both cheeks with it: Guns’ keys swell with a subtle beauty in the background, while Bonnet’s down ‘n’ dirty guitar riff stabs through the equally gritty rhythm laid down by the tight-as-fuck combo of Ceth Carter (now ain’t that a classic country name?) and Travis Ashley, before he lets rip with a downtuned solo that would make Mr Medlocke wish he’d dreamed it up.


Hang on, you want more rock ‘n’ roll? Well, here it is in spades on the boogie-tastic ‘Waiting On Time’, which struts and swaggers its way out of the speakers, grunts and grinds its way around the dancefloor of the UR studio and reaches for a bottle of the finest Jack and plants a dirty great big kiss on both your cheeks. Goddamn, this is classic southern rock played with a passion and purity sadly lacking in so many of today’s young imitators. ‘Hometown Heroes’ is another blue-collar rocker ripped straight from the back streets of every southern American town you can name in your 60 seconds in the final round of ‘Pointless’: referencing Seger and Skynyrd (literally) it grabs the likes of Kid Rock by the balls and screams “listen jock, this is how it’s done” in his face, before spitting in same and walking off, flipping the bird behind its denim-clad arse crack.


Then, there’s a hymnal organ motif and a simple acoustic strum for the intro to ‘Heading Home’, the only ballad in this all-too-brief collection. Very much steeped in the southern rock tradition, it poignantly reflects its subject matter: “I wrote that while staring out a window of a tour bus in the middle of the night,” recalls Bonnet. “I was missing my child and the song just came to me out of nowhere.” The spontaneity shows: now wonder it is one its writers’ favourite songs. A simple message from a loving father to their offspring.


‘Cold And Alone’ is a somewhat melancholic way to close off, dealing as it does with a subject so close to the hearts of so many musicians who spend countless hours, days and weeks away from their loved ones. Built around a series of sublimely subtle slide guitar motifs, it has a gnarly feel of road weariness, yet underpinned with the ironic joy of an artist loving what he is doing but living with, and accepting, the full consequences of doing so.


I must admit, I probably wouldn’t have paid any attention to this wonderful mini-album if it hadn’t been for the Tracii Guns connection. But, I’m glad I did. There is a subtle line between blues, country and rock music that few artists are brave enough to cross: Charlie Bonnet III doesn’t even recognize that line.


‘Sinner With A Song’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


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