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CD REVIEW: Chuck Cheesman - Imagining Dancers
By Cyrus Rhodes - 03/22/2011 - 08:29 PM EDT

Artist: Chuck Cheesman
Album: Imagining Dancers
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: Don Henley, The Eagles, Don McLean, Bread
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 6/10
Best Songs: Lucky Number, Piece of the Machine, Election Night
Weakness: Winded Songs, Marketability, Vocal Performances
CD Review:

Acoustic singer/Songwriter Chuck Cheesman releases his latest CD entitled “Imaginary Dancers” in 2011. Band member include Cheesman (guitar, vocals, harmonica),Larry Clyman (guitar) Tony Perrino (Organ) Sam Zucchini (drums & percussion), John Abbey& Armand Ramirez (bass) Rick Rourke (saxophone) & Mark Dvorak (Banjo) & Karen Banks-Lubicz (voice).  Cheesman hails from Flagstaff Arizona.

The CD kicks things off with “Drummer” a gentile intro piece complete with delicate acoustic guitar groove with heartfelt vocal presence from Cheesman. This first track is like a warm welcoming mat. Track 2 “Rainbow (New York City) delivers an upbeat acoustical melody that’s serves up well placed percussive accents, impressive saxophone that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Sing for Love” delvers another passionate ballad from Cheesman with its methodical musical build, well placed guitar ambience & Hammond Organ chops & accents. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious Cheesman’s music has a lot to offer with impressive songwriting, heartfelt vocal persona. It has all the trademarks of an acoustic folk/rock with its powerful highs, thought provoking wisdom, & compelling subject matter. This catalogue is packed with amazing honesty, always striking, powerful, yet fully entertained all at the same time. This CD flows extremely well song for song with musical textures reminiscent of classic Don Henley, The Eagles, Marc Cohen, Bread, & Don McLean. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will notice things like Hammond Organ, Harmonica, Piano, Banjo, saxophone, well placed percussion accents & slamming solo guitar layered within the music. The musicianship of all the players involved is solid across the board & conservative & solid. Cheesman’s vocal style works well song for song. He possesses a vocal swagger that goes down smooth, & simply refuses to try too hard. From easy flowing “One Silver Hair” to rocking “Piece of the Machine” & “Lucky Number” to heartfelt” Election Night” & New Friend” it’s fair to say this CD has something for just about everyone. I especially like “The Dutchman” by Michael Peter Smith. The CD ends with Track 10 ”Universe” the perfect finale piece for a catalogue such as this. 

There are slight timing issues on track 1 & track 2 (16th note percussive note accents). The percussion on track 2 sticks out like a sore thumb to me & sound like they sit way high in the mix. The drums lack serious bottom end punch. The CD sounds a bit thin to me – needing more low end frequency. On some songs I can barely hear the drums, especially the kick. Cheesman needs to mix it up more vocally as well. Perhaps more vocal harmonies would help mix things up better. I don’t recall one harmony on this entire CD. It’s fair to say Cheesman doesn't have a world class vocal ability & his deivery is somewhat lukewarm at best. That & he needs to take more vocal risks, especially during the finale moments of the music. This would indicate to me a strong & confident vocal ability. Whwn this is done right it's like capturing lightning in a bottle. When not done right can come across as lukewarm, unentertainig & forgetfull. All songs over 4 minute tend to drag you to the finish line. I fully realize this is a subjective art form, but many of the aforementioned affect the CD's overall marketability.

Overall “Imagining Dancers” by Chuck Cheesman is a rock solid musical statement from start to finish. Its strong suit is the amazing amount of musical consistency, impressive songwriting, solid musicianship, & warm vocal presence form Cheesman. Chuck Cheesman touches all the subject matter with his writing. Pound for Pound “Imagining Dancers” is an honest, striking, & uplifting musical statement filled with messages of hope, wisdom, & the love of life itself. 

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