Physically, Christophe Locket is a fairly tall guy who worked as a bouncer, played sports in his youth, and can be imposing if he wants to. “No one looks at me and says, ‘Yeah, that man…clearly a reader,'” he jokes. “You only get it if you get to know me. Or listen to the songs I wrote.
These songs have been described as “country for intellectuals…(written) in the style of classic artists like Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt” (LA Music Critic), and noted as having “…insightful lyrics of a journalist-minded writer” (Turnstyled Junkpiled Magazine) and “…great lines in almost every song (No Depression), while he himself was considered a “substantial and soulful songwriter “(American Songwriter). In other words, Christopher Lockett has a knack for telling stories.
At The Station is a 12-song story that pairs Lockett with producer Fernando Perdomo and mastering engineer Zach Ziskin for the second time. “Fernando is really good at working with singer-songwriters. His whole process starts with me singing and playing a live vocal and guitar scratch track over a click track, like I was playing a solo show. We start building from there. Drums, bass, re-recording acoustic guitars, then vocals and other instruments. The finished songs are definitely more listenable and drive pretty loud.
With a low baritone voice that has grit and grit, Kris Kristofferson, Warren Zevon and Tom Waits might first come to mind as influences. “Nobody who hears me would ever think that Nanci Griffith or Kate Wolf or Emmylou Harris are influences, but they are. I’ve listened to Emmylou, literally, my whole life. My mom was the physical education teacher at Emmylou in high school. Known for playing a variety of instruments that most people wouldn’t expect; Kalimba, jaw harp, Appalachian dulcimer and blues harp, he cites several harmonica players who also influenced him. elder Roma Wilson, Snooky Pryor, Sonny Terry, Jason Ricci, Adam Gussow and DeFord Bailey, all very different players from each other. I even have a track on this album called ‘Blues for DeFord Bailey’.”
“Even though I only play the harmonica on two tracks on this album, it’s by far my most powerful instrument,” he says. “My grandmother and stepfather taught me how to play when I was a child. They mainly played the upright harp; Irish, British Isles and southern folk tunes. I can play that too, and enjoy it. “a good lonely cowboy harmonica warble. But something just clicks with the blues harp for me. I’ve been fortunate in my career as a journalist and photojournalist to have spent time with Honeyboy Edwards, Johnny Shines and Robert Junior Lockwood All now dead, but they were Robert Johnson-era men of the Mississippi Delta blues.
Lockett is an award-winning cinematographer, photographer and director whose daily work requires extensive travel. “I’ve worked on 5 continents so far and I try to find local musicians to play with while I’m abroad. I bring home local instruments and sometimes also rhythms and melodies. Then everything is stirred and simmered in the same pot of okra.
At The Station focuses on a microcosm of Lockett’s world, the mortality of his parents. The title cut is a farewell letter to his mother who has terminal Alzheimer’s disease. (Her father died in December 2020 on the 60th anniversary of his marriage to Lockett’s mother). “Loss is a big theme. Anger too. It is about love for this life, come what may,” he observes. “Short answer – mortality, joy and a long way to go through the wreckage. Long answer – I bring to this album an appreciation for being alive and a desire to share thoughts, songs and experiences with people with more experience and energy and hope than I’ve had in years Nor is there hope for Pollyanna It’s hard earned I’ve looked into the abyss , I came back wanting to play more music, kind of hopeful.
That hope infuses songs like “Whiskey for Everything” and “Wet a Line,” which celebrate being alive, while there are love songs for independent women like “Bring Your Love On Home To Me”, and protest songs like “E Pluribus Unum” and “Le Jugement”.
“The Reckoning” is the launch song featuring Fernando’s electric guitar and Kitten Kuroi’s vocals. “They give it a lot more impact than the purely acoustic demo I recorded,” he notes. “They make the song hit harder, and it had to hit hard. It’s really a protest song influenced by Woody Guthrie’s “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)”. I’ve seen pictures of field workers harvesting the food everyone eats when it was 110F with smoke from wildfires rising above the mountains in the background. It hit me hard. Collectively, we look away from the labor abuses of the agriculture industry. We call them “essential workers” during the pandemic and “unskilled labor” from corner offices when we place their work on a post. There will one day be a judgment on the labor rights of agricultural workers and the food supply chain in this country. It’s been long overdue.
The aforementioned “At The Station” features Scarlet Rivera on violin. “For my mother, I know the end is near, and like the speeding train of time in song, I know it will be sooner rather than later. Spending time with someone, trying to say goodbye in the best possible way, it’s time well spent,” he observes. “The structure of this song is a departure for me. When writing it, the verse seemed to want to be a chorus and the chorus seemed to want to be a chorus. to be a verse. So, I called them ‘versechorus’ and repeated them, like I would if I was talking to my mother. Scarlet Rivera’s fiddle is absolutely perfect for the tone and feeling we were going for on this song.
“Blues for DeFord Bailey” tells the story of the country music radio star WSM. The wildly popular radio show, “WSM Barn Dance” morphed into “The Grand Ole Opry” in 1927. Bailey had been on the air since 1926 and was popular with WSM listeners. His troubles began when he went on road trips with other popular Grand Ole Opry stars. It was then that Jim Crow-era audiences in the American South realized that one of the country genre’s most popular artists was Black. Lockett notes, “I wish more people knew about his story and his music. Thankfully, Ken Burns brought DeFord Bailey back to the fore in his 8-part country music documentary. His name and his music should be better known.
The record ends with “Sweat Work” – They want your rhythm but not your blues / They couldn’t dance a step if they stole your shoes. “It’s a little warning about people who will try to take what’s good and honest and real for themselves, while leaving the messy parts for someone else. It felt like a strong and sweaty to close the album. The world may be an absolute mess, but you still have to dance. Forward, through the wreckage.
Lockett prides himself on remaining open to deeply resonant human experiences. “I keep reading, finding artists that inspire me, asking the big questions, learning, stretching. Go places that aren’t convenient. Follow where the trail leads just to see what there’s around the bend. I try to write the kind of songs that I’d like to hear, that might help me or someone else through the tough times in life – there’s no shortage of that. no. Releasing these albums is very important to me. I don’t have kids, so that’s what I can leave behind I guess. Proof that I was there, at least.
At the station released on May 13, 2022