Original Writeup

An Ancient Nostalgia; Unraveling Evan Cheadle’s Latest Work, ‘Fault Line Serenade’

by Galen Clark

Much like a fault line, a work of art such as Cheadle’s appropriately titled sophomore effort has potential energy in the form of clandestine opinions, evocative imagery, and genuine intention converting into kineticism to consequently divide and create rifts in the center of an audience. So too must it concurrently and inevitably unite an audience in unanimous unison – and it is abundantly apparent Evan Cheadle was out to set a great precedent and impression with this work.

Evan Cheadle, a singer-songwriter originally from Victoria, British Columbia, released his second full length record, Fault Line Serenade on Victory Pool Records. The album carries a true duality in the sense that it is passively pleasant listening on the ears and on the surface is not too inquisitive or trite to enjoy, but upon further immersion is a meticulously crafted record presenting an abundance of complexity and equivocal introspection yearning to pry into its density.

A luscious blend of whimsically ancient acoustic guitar, intimate vintage drums, and thick plucked bass all set the precedent for Cheadle’s voice to weave through a mystical landscape of choice additional textures such as pedal steel, esoteric lead electric guitars, cinematic string arrangements, and ponderous keyboard sounds.

The record begins with the introduction of “No Love Lost”, a seemingly post-apocalyptic daydream with a cathartic backbeat that coaxes you quickly into a welcomed poison to the heart – a poison perhaps that is in subconscious disregard of the dose. Out of pacific northwestern landscapes, strings lilt in a placid dance with interwoven lines of jangling guitar, blooming bass, and tight studio kit, all parted ways by Cheadle’s charismatic voice.

“Sorrow In The Morning” immediately entrances you with a walking, quivering, and robust plucked guitar line that echoes, lingers in canyons, and guides Cheadle’s voice straight to the center of nostalgic days of old. The walking guitar pattern, intricate fingerstyle lines, and floating harmonics mingle with the vocal, captivating a vast amount of space with the age-old combination of the singer and instrument. 

While playful in spirit, inside Fault Line Serenade lies a dormant intensity and severity rooted in harmonic complexity, wistful intention, artistic deliberation, and clever lyricism that sets this work in a realm of its own. The day-dreamy romanticism lulling you into the record is coupled with a dark, yet not sinister demeanor. The music evokes a sort of feeling and imagery that is as necessarily human as it is surrealist. It is human in the way Cheadle portrays the vulnerability in love and our involuntary weakness to it in the natural world, yet concurrently surrealist in the way he evokes fantastical textures, cinematic arrangements, and ingenious orchestration to grasp the listener beyond his emotion into a void of their own imagination. 

“I Hear The Singing” changes pace with the introduction of unique pedal/lap steel guitar, organ/keyboard, dense vintage drums, and plucked bass. In a cinematic manner, Cheadle guides you into a balance of harmonic cacophony and resolve. 

The 12 song album, Fault Line Serenade encapsulates Cheadle’s charm and style – a far from predictable blend of nostalgia presented in an inquisitive and timeless manner. In a bloom of instantaneous contradiction the record reminds you of quite a lot, but also of nothing you have ever heard before. Some of the best moments on the record are rather transitional or unexpected twists. The tranquil slide guitars in “Joker” are accompanied by a slap back delayed old-time walking guitar outro. The west coast feel embedded in Fault Line Serenade promotes a mystic, tangible, and laid back energy that shows itself when you’re least expecting it.

There is something to the raw authenticity in Cheadle’s playing and singing that is only elevated by the ethereal nature of keen production choices from partnering with producer/engineer David Parry. A certain reflection of Cheadle’s time nestled in the woods of his parents home in Victoria in solitude can be heard in between the record as one of the many cohesive elements binding it together

Much like a fault line, a work of art such as Cheadle’s appropriately titled sophomore effort has potential energy in the form of clandestine opinions, evocative imagery, and genuine intention converting into kineticism to consequently divide and create rifts in the center of an audience. So too must it concurrently and inevitably unite an audience in unanimous unison – and it is abundantly apparent Evan Cheadle was out to set a great precedent and impression with this work. 


Q&A with Evan Cheadle:

What was going on in your life that initially inspired and eventually shaped the record, Fault Line Serenade?

It’s hard to pinpoint – this album was really a distilling of the last ten years of my life, during which there has been a smorgasbord of influences. . It’s definitely been a time of transition and a lot of heavy feeling went into these songs. Writing is my way of processing. 

There are a lot of complex cinematic visuals that come to the minds eye nestled in this record specifically with the instrumentation and arrangements – was this something you heard or had intentions towards before even recording, or was it a bit of spontaneity revealing each addition as you began or continued the recording process? 

I was picking songs for this album that could sit alone comfortably. From there, I find it’s easier to craft the instrumentation because one can sit back, focus on propping-up the emotional backbone of each song. I write in terms of vibrant imagery, often a stream of consciousness approach. My lyrics come from that, and I like the production to mirror the writing process. Once I finish a song, I tend to think up arrangements right away. For each of these songs, I had the instrumentation mostly mapped out, with specific players in mind. I’m a fan of extending an arrangement and letting the core of the song sit nestled in the middle, where it’s propped up but not overwhelmed.

There are a lot of beautiful allusions in nature in this record – How has living in the Pacific Northwest altered your writing or synthesis of ideas? Where and when did you often find yourself writing music for this record?

The Pacific Northwest is a very striking place, and I can’t help but use imagery from this landscape since that’s what I’ve been surrounded by my whole life. I tend to gravitate to other songwriters who share my affection for natural metaphors. That being said, I did write lots of lines for this record all over the world. Whenever a lyric pops into my head, I write it down, if possible, and look to it later for inspiration. I mainly fleshed out the writing at home in Victoria, or in a few bouts when I was house sitting at my parents home, which is in the forest on the ocean. The songs were written over several years. 

What are some of your favorite records and artists? 

Here’s the tip of the iceberg as of late. 

Heron’s  – Twice As Nice & Half The Price and their self titled LP. That’s the spirit I look for in music, brilliant heartful songs with delicate production and the soulful rough edges that keep me coming back. 

Nina Simone is one of the greatest. Lately I’ve especially been loving her album of cover songs that came out in 1971, ‘Here Comes The Sun’. She had the ability to open up a new emotional depth to a song that you thought you knew – a total genius. 

John Phillips (John, the Wolf King of L.A.) is a favourite, especially in the last couple years. This record, from songs to arrangements is one I come back to all the time. I don’t condone him as a person, I do love his songwriting and this record is truly great. 

Ted Lucas’s music has really permeated my world for the last few years, I can’t get enough of it. 

How long have you been making music? Was it a conscious decision when you first began writing songs? 

I started making music 15 years ago. I initially wanted to write songs, but as soon as I started, I knew I needed to feed myself the right musical information and techniques, so I went back in earnest and studied the kind of music I was beguiled by. That was the only way I felt I could have the right experience and context to write the kind of songs that I wanted to write. So after about five years of heavily focused musical exploration I came back to songwriting. 

How has being a Victory Pool Recording artist altered your approach to putting your songs to canvas or visualizing the landscape of Fault Line Serenade?

They came on board at the perfect time, after I finished ‘Fault Line Serenade’. They have really helped guide me through releasing this album. I knew we had crafted something special, which Jesse Northey also saw, and I’m fortunate for that. I feel very supported by Victory Pool.

What was working with David Parry on this record like? Do you find working with a producer (and other musicians) in general is beneficial to changing the pace of the recording process or sparking new ideas? 

I grew up playing music very isolated, no other people who I knew in my town were on the same page, so it still feels exciting to work with other people. David and I have a certain special musical chemistry. He knows where I’m coming from and is brilliant at helping me achieve and technically deliver the sonic landscape that I’m after. I generally have a pretty clear picture of how I want the recordings to end up and he helps me achieve it – like having a band member. He got on board and saw it through with me in an inspired fashion. There were instances on a couple songs where we were going in one direction with a song and David stirred us to a whole new territory, which was exciting. That only happens with a great co-producer. Usually it was stripping down an arrangement. Having the right collaborators is important to me, people I feel comfortable with and trust their playing, so yes I found it beneficial, though at times logistically challenging. 

Who are all of the wonderful musicians featured on the record? How many instruments did you play or guide arrangement decisions?

The list of great musicians is long. One of the big contributors was Clayton Linthicum from Kacy and Clayton. He’s a good friend of mine – we have toured together and recorded as part of The Deep Dark Woods. He’s a brilliant guitar player who has the same musical taste as me. I knew he’d fit perfectly on these songs and he did.  Most of the strings were done by Maria Grigoryeva who is from Russia, who Ryan Boldt connected me with when he was producing my last release, Chasing Shadows. Maria is very tasteful and always delivers great work that adds a lot to the songs. Of course David Parry peppered this album with his multi instrumental prowess, especially his drumming, which appears on a lot of the tracks. I was lucky to have such a great crew of players contribute. 

I played acoustic & electric guitar, piano, organ, and bass; and performed the songs the way I’d written them, which guided the arrangements. I mostly knew the kind of instrumentation I wanted for each track before recording so it was a matter of fitting all the pieces together and hoping it would all work out. 

The record has a lot of really unique sounds and sonics! It sounds almost as if some of the guitar sounds have a tape or cassette warble going on – What was the recording process like?

 I started the record with a great engineer here in Victoria named Julian Marrs. We did guitar and vocals on some of the songs together. I then knew I wanted David’s help on the rest of the tracks and finishing everything off. David and I had recorded “Float On Down the Line” a year earlier and I loved how it turned out, so It felt like we needed to make a whole album along those lines. A lot of the record was done in David’s analogue studio, hence the tape warble. I found that working on tape changed the work flow for the better and that David got things sounding the way I had envisioned from the start, which helped solidify the arrangements. I especially love his drum sound. Some of the parts were recorded remotely, such as the strings, which we then dumped back onto the tape machine with the rest of the song. 

The album artwork really matches the sonic landscape of the records harmony and textures and almost surrealist in style – Who created the artwork for Fault Line Serenade and how did that become a choice for the record’s visual accompaniment? My father Chris Cheadle did the artwork. It’s a Polaroid picture of Mount Rainier which he took and made painterly with a match stick while it developed. I had the title and the album finished and was hanging out with him in his studio when I noticed a box of such Polaroids he had unearthed, scattered on his lightbox. It was serendipitous – I was blown away and knew it would be the perfect cover for this record in every way. It feels great to showcase this piece of art and give it life, after sitting idle for so long. 

What are your plans for 2021 following this release? 

Hopefully I will be able to play some shows and do some short tours when possible. I’ll be starting on another album soon, so I’m currently writing some new material for that.

Work with us

The best way to build your band's reputation online without exhausting your indie budget.

Get Started