Chris Darrow Artist Proof

Chris DarrowArtist Proof
As a founding member of '60s L.A. psych-folk outfit Kaleidoscope (along with David Lindley), Chris Darrow played a significant role in defining the city's country-rock sound that blossomed in the '70s with the Eagles and Jackson Browne. What set Kaleidoscope apart from contemporaries such as the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers was musical experimentation that, at times, incorporated everything from Middle Eastern to avant-garde elements. Jimmy Page has cited them as an influence and they were recruited to back up Leonard Cohen on his 1967 debut album. The scene had become much more laidback by the time Darrow made Artist Proof, his 1972 solo debut, and this reissue is a timely reminder that there were other artists around then aside from Gram Parsons championing "cosmic American music." Opener "Beware Of Time" is vintage L.A. country rock, but for most of the album Darrow does well to present himself as a patched-denim singer-songwriter in the James Taylor mould while adding mandolin, fiddle and dobro on top of the lead guitars. The album's weak spot is Darrow's voice, which, although pleasant, isn't as distinctive as those of his peers. Nonetheless, anyone interested in the L.A. country rock scene will find much to admire in Artist Proof, and an additional five previously unreleased demos are an added bonus. (Drag City)