Hans Chew has travelled a long way from Tennessee to Georgia to New Orleans to East Harlem, and has sang many songs along his journey. But what happens when a ramblin’ man stops moving? Chew’s 4th studio album, Open Sea, which drops December 1st on UK indie label At The Helm Recordsm represents a satisfying evolution in Hans’s brand of piano-based Americana, R&B and rock & roll. While his past work was consumed with themes of searching and longing, this album brings to the surface different questions about being a man: equanimity in chaos, permanence of choices, the meaning of work.
Hans plays guitar himself on Open Sea, along with his usual rollicking piano and bluesy R&B vocalizing. Tapping the rhythm section of the band Rhyton, with Rob Smith on drums and Jimy SeiTang on bass, along with his long-time collaborator Dave Cavallo on guitar, Hans finds his most agile and sensitive band yet, stretching songs to longer lengths, with confident exploration and roaring jams. The sounds they conjure throughout the album bring to mind musical influences of classic ‘60s/’70s American and British rockers like Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Fairport Convention, Mighty Baby, and the Grateful Dead.
Today Glide is premiering the music video for the album’s title track “Open Sea”. Mixing a touch of outlaw country guitar with Chew’s airy vocals, the song meanders along as if drifting across a wide open landscape. The guitar playing and vocals are at times reminiscent of modern stylists like Steve Gunn, but Chew also lets his band wander into a psychedelic country blues jam before morphing into a piano-driven funk groove. Of course, the visuals add an extra layer of trippiness to the music. “Open Sea” feels almost improvised and stirs up a desire to catch this band perform live, as there is zero doubt they put on barnburner jam sessions.
Hans Chew offers up his own story behind the song and the video:
“When I was writing the song ‘Open Sea’, on the one hand sonically I was imagining something that mid-’70s Gene Clark of the Byrds might sing, like a lost cut from No Other, some kind of ballad of nostalgia and bitterness, yet on the other hand I wanted the improvisation section in the middle to rock hard enough to represent the rising squall and surging storm and post-storm tranquility of a disturbance at sea. For me, the song’s lyrics were meant to evoke the confusion of dreams, dreams are referenced multiple times in the song, like the line about how a face might transform into another kind of face, as well as the feeling of being paralyzed by the past in terms of pursuing one’s dreams, like the line that references the biblical story of Lot’s wife and the pillar of salt. Finally, most importantly, I was trying to transmit the freeing sensation of letting go of all control and attachment to anything and drifting in the currents of time and space, circumstance and destiny.
The video for ‘Open Sea’ is footage I edited together shot over several years by my photographer friend Victor Harshbarger. Victor also shot the front and back photos of the album cover for Open Sea. I think Victor has an incredible eye for composition and is a genius for seeing details in everyday imagery that most would not. I think the feelings that Victor’s footage capture, those of the mundane and the profound, of the everyday and the once in a lifetime, work well with the atmosphere of the song. The other few shots in the video are of the edited footage projected over me in a dark studio, as we wanted to show me a little bit, but we wanted Victor’s footage mainly to tell the story.”
Hans Chew releases Open Sea December 1st on At the Helm Records. Check out tour dates below and visit hanschew.com for more info.
Friday, Nov. 10 – NYC, NY – Max Fish w/ Sparrow Steeple
Saturday, Nov. 11 – Baltimore, MD – Holy Frijoles w/ Dave Heumann (Arbouretum)
Sunday, Nov. 12 – Charlotte, NC – The Visulite Theatre w/ Tashi Dorji, R.H.T.S.
Monday, Nov. 13 – Durham, NC – The Pinhook w/ Shilpa Ray, Pie Face Girls
Tuesday, Nov. 14 – Nashville, TN – Fond Object
Wednesday, Nov. 15 – Lexington, KY – The Green Lantern, w/ Warren Byrom, Dave Cave (Beat Awfuls)
Thursday, Nov. 16 – Atlanta, GA – The Star Bar w/ Rod Hamdallah (Legendary Shack Shakers), Nikki and the Phantom Callers
Friday, Nov. 17 – Chattanooga, TN – JJ’s Bohemia w/ The Bohannons, Bill Fox (The Mice)
Saturday, Nov. 18 – Monteagle, TN – The V w/The Bohannons
Sunday, Nov. 19 – Nashville, TN – Betty’s Grill