Bill Champlin: No Place Left To Fall

By: Dennis Cook

It always sounds like a reach when one calls a release "career defining" or anything of the sort but No Place Left To Fall (released August 4 on DreamMakers Music) goes some way towards offering an honest snapshot of Bill Champlin, longtime member of Chicago (until recently) and founder of '60s ground zero groove pioneers the Sons of Champlin. This is a pro's pro at work, pouring heart and soul into carefully assembled tunes that shimmer with both his hippie roots and the more refined, smoother tributaries he's explored since the '70s in and out of Chicago.

Champlin is the dude who co-wrote "After The Love Is Gone" for Earth, Wind & Fire, and that polished, wide-reaching fare is here but there's also the loose, bouncing gospel vibe of "Tuggin' On Your Sleeve," the guitar etched slow burn of "The Truth," quality ego deflator "Stone Cold Hollywood," the simply great classic songwriting of the title cut, sighing romantic shuffler with a smile "Lookin' For You" and "Angelina," one of the jauntiest invitations to infidelity ever. And every piece is well appointed with top-notch collaborators and swings on tasty, compact instrumental soloing and multi-layered singing that celebrates the power and nuance of the human voice. While vintage Sons fans will find little here reminiscent of say "Get High," that mojo still flows in Champlin's veins but tempered by the years and plugged into music that's still jabbing our dreams from their slumber and reminding us how much there is in the journey and not just the destinations we fixate on.

At a base level, these are mostly love songs, though sometimes written in the aftermath of expired passions or as personal hymns directed at a lover as large as the universe, though Champlin excels at tapping into the bigger truths contained between just two people. Feeling - beginning and ending with the enormous emotional range of Champlin's still incredible voice – is the rule on No Place Left To Fall, which gently invites us to open up and honestly embrace who we are while listening attentively to what our hearts are saying.

Bill Champlin embarks on a rare U.S. solo tour in November. Find dates here.

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[Published on: 8/25/09]

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