Chris Rawlins is a folk and roots influenced singer-songwriter based in Chicago, IL distinguished by vivid lyrics, rich vocals and unique finger-style guitar playing. A native of the Midwestern United States, he draws from his upbringing in scenes both urban and rural to create a surreal, yet honest and relatable world for his songs to inhabit. An equal background in jazz and american folk music is evident in his surprising melodic turns and chord phrasing. After years spent honing his craft in Chicago’s folk and singer-songwriter circles, his debut album, "Bring on the Rain" released February 8th, 2019.
“You can tell, that as a listener you are in the hands of a precise, unnerving descriptor… Listen carefully, look out for the detail, let the words soothe or screech at you, and let the music amaze you… surreal and thought-provoking.” (Americana UK)
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve always seen myself as a singer-songwriter, but I struggled to put a foot forward and do that for a long time. I grew up in Kalamazoo, MI and I’ve played in bands since high school but usually as a guitarist or bass player, never as band leader or songwriter. After high school I went to study music in college for two years, became frustrated at how technical and competitive that was and then changed majors to creative writing hoping that would lead me more into songwriting.
I wrote songs while in college but I was too shy to play them in public. Finally, once I graduated I felt like enough was enough. I had wasted enough time, so I decided to pack my things and move to New York City and focus on nothing but writing songs and performing them. I went to open mics every night and eventually got somewhat comfortable singing songs I wrote in front of people. Living in New York was unsustainable though, so that lasted less than a year before I moved back to Michigan briefly and then made my way to Chicago.
I’ve found Chicago to be much more my speed. New York may have given me the confidence to perform, but living in Chicago and becoming a part of the music community here has shaped my songwriting more than anything else. It’s taken a while but I’m pleased with where I am now. I went on my first tour this Summer and I’m finishing up a debut album.
Can you tell us more about your songwriting?
I write songs that try to describe feelings or things I can’t quite put into words any other way. I like writing songs with multiple angles or themes happening at the same time and fitting them together under the same emotional umbrella. I take a very visual approach to lyrics and let the narrative seep out of the images. So, I hope that people take away something like what you’d take away from a painting or photograph, with an endless number of little stories that stem from each image, line, verse, etc.
As for the music, I like to base melodies and chord progressions off of traditional themes. I’ve always loved jazz standards as well as traditional country music, so I think my songs tend to sound like a blend those two styles.