While I like Feast and Famine and Gold Country it is my opinion that the release of Covering Ground brings us the best music Chuck has released to date. And if you’re curious: yes, that covers his Hot Water Music output as well. With each and every album Chuck has laid foundations which he’s subsequently built upon for the next release. From start to finish, Covering Ground is full of amazing music and lyrics and it’s riddled with some well known names that Chuck brought along for the ride on this one: Frank Turner, Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem, Chris Thorn of Blind Melon, Chris Phillips of Squirrel Nut Zippers and the ever present beard of Jon Gaunt. While the guests are pretty cool they do not make this album so much as add to its richness. What makes this album great is Chuck’s writing and the strength of his vocals.
If you were to ask me to pick a defining track from Covering Ground I don’t think I could do it. Every track on this one is strong and worth listening to. When Chuck belts out these songs his voice drips with whiskey, cigarettes and too many nights on the road which makes it easy to completely get lost in the stories he’s telling. When he croons a ballad it seeps into you in a way that precious few artists can hope to accomplish. The vocals are frankly hypnotic on some of these tracks. When you toss in Jon’s fiddle playing you get some haunting tunes that stand their ground with the rockers. Of course, by now you could have guessed that I am going to call this one Essential Listening and you wouldn’t be wrong. I think Covering Ground solidifies Chuck as one of the defining artists in the Americana genre and will be one of the defining albums of this decade.