Chris St. John 2021
Out from a desk and on to the ranch, one attorney’s reveries come true.
Known to courtroom audiences under a different name, Chris St. John has been preparing to swap a judge’s robe for a performer’s outfit for a long time, only practicing law didn’t give this Long Islander a lot of possibilities to do so – until now that he’s finally issued an audio autobiography. Yet if one would expect “I’m Dreaming” to be a didactic listen or a singer-songwriter’s confession, it’s everything but dry and tedious – quite the contrary: Chris’ album is life-affirming even in its saddest moments. And there are many such instants, given many should categorize St. John’s record as country, when in reality the conceptual results of his toil and trouble – creative and otherwise – are much more polished than any Appalachian pining must allow for, albeit the songs on display have the same raw emotionality.
Perhaps, their span, nearing an hour, is too protracted and not too rhythmically varied for a regular listener yet it’s typical for a debut offering, and as far as debuts go, this one exudes freedom. That’s why it’s difficult not to relate to the lap-steel-oiled sentiment of opener “I Need A Horse” – an urban prairie waltz of sorts – or to the brass-splashed “Two Tender Angels” whose mariachi spirit will undoubtedly spellbind a romantic soul, while “A Box For Jewels” can indeed serenade a rodeo aficionado. Still, further on the bluegrass-like licks of “The Chance I Gave To You” take the piece to a hoedown, the piano-laden solemnity and ethereal backing vocals of “Dreams Are Free” unravel a magnificent lullaby, whereas the warm balladry of “I Called You Rose” and the strings-drenched “The Winds They Blow” share baroque grandeur.
Chris shows all the makings of a folk minstrel on the traditional “Peggy O'” – the album’s sole non-original – but “Never Forget The Day Walk Through The Forest” is immensely enchanting, especially once its electric waves are broken by psychedelic raga. It’s quite a surprising turn of the tide and a clear indication that St. John’s sophomore effort should be extremely interesting. Don’t judge the judge…