Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
For those who are reading this review, you automatically fall into 1 of 2 categories. Either you have never heard of Chris Jackson before, or you know who he is and what he has already done in the realm of music. You see, Chris has been a writer for some time now. He started off trying to get his R&B career off the ground, and ended up getting a song placed with Toni Braxton. He’s even been on tour with some big name mainstream artitsts.
So with all that being said, while he may be new to many of you, he’s not a rookie to the music scene in any way, shape, or form. And after much time spent honing his craft behind the scenes, Chris’ dream of being his own artist is finally coming true with his project, No Chaser. With so much time on his side to work on his first solo body of work, can we say it holds up as a solid first offering?
Why No Chaser?
Chris Jackson is a natural story teller. Listening to the first 3 songs can give you a clear understanding of that. This entire album is a story, and a very relevant one at that. Chris captured the mindset of a young man doing his best to live a God honoring life in a clear manner, while also providing some creative approaches to his story telling and wording. You can imagine that No Chaser itself can be read from cover to cover, or track to track, like a book.
We start with the first song “Story of A Champion” (featuring Melissa Musique and Kennedy) as the introduction page where we get a broad explanation of who this young man is and what he stands for, as well as what he may stand against. He has a past life and past experiences that have shaped his worldview. But even through that, he hasn’t lost faith and vows to “Never Again” go back to those places.
There is a continuos narrative of this young man and the Lord speaking to each other in the midst of the ups and downs of life. “Do Me” represents the strong times where the man is focused on God and walking upright. But God comes right back to say even though you may do me different then I do you, I will be “Right Here” and never leave you alone. The young man repents and vows to not be “The 1ne That Got Away” (a song that features Denise Renee).
We take another ride from the peak-to-valley with God’s response to the man in “Yeah Yeah” (featuring Javonte’) and the album’s title track “No Chaser” – the young man’s “garden of Gethsemane” heart cry to the Lord. Then back up from the valley to the peak with “Hold My Hand”, once again accepting God’s unlimited love and grace, and marveling at just how big God’s love is for us all in “Falling Down” (featuring Karina).
We wrap it up for God’s final declaration of His love for the young man in the song “you…”. The young man is now able to testify of how God’s love is great, but it’s not meant to be hoarded. We are to give it out to others that we come across in life. It’s for this purpose that we receive it, and when you give it, it will naturally come back to you, like the song “Boomerang”.
So, why no chaser? For those who aren’t familiar with linguistics around drinks, something that has “no chaser” is a drink that you have straight up, and it mostly refers to alcohol. The chaser takes some of the edge off from the alcohol you are consuming first. So for Chris to be referring to this life as a drink with no chaser is referencing how hard it is.
It’s about how he has the desire to represent Christ well, but there are so many things in his way that he feels he can’t take the cup anymore. He is tired of drinking from it and desires relief from the struggles. Jesus himself had a similar conversation with God before his crucifixtion. And much like Jesus, the Lord says that I am enough for you to stand in the life you’ve been given. Continue to come to me and I will give you strength to endure the trials and pain of living. As a Christian, I find this interaction extremely relatable, as I’ve had this conversation with God many times in my life.
No Chaser Music
This album has some serious music. It is no slouch at all. I feel this is one of the first R&B sounding albums I’ve heard that felt like it wasn’t heavily influenced by the hip hop of the current era. I don’t want to over-hype it, but there is so much soul in the music, as well as surprises around every corner. What I mean is that from the instrumentation of the songs, to the clever usage of samples, it keeps you involved in the songs from the beginning to the end. You have songs with the full band sound, you have some tracks with the late 90’s R&B feel to it, and a creative technique I like to call, dual sampling in some songs.
That means that there are two different samples, one usually being melody and the other being a beat pattern, used in one song to create a whole new vibe. This happens in “Do Me” and “Right Here” most of all. It messes with your head in a good way – creating new memories to melodies that you may already be familiar with, which can be a hard thing to do.
No Chaser is a good album. It’s not just because of the music, but it has a good story element to it that we all can relate to. We’ve all had things we struggle with, we’ve all cried out to God for freedom from this unbearable cup, and we’ve all been able to stand because of His love and grace. From a strictly musical standpoint, the tracks are good too. Chris’ vocals are good, his harmonies sound nice with the melodies of each track, and the features compliment the music.
For thos who have been looking for some new singers to add to their music playlist, I feel like you would enjoy Chris Jackson’s No Chaser. It’s a good blend of “blues” with an equal amount of “rhythm” to keep your head nodding while playing it in your earbuds.