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. His debut album, "Bring on the Rain" released February 8th, 2019 and has been called both timeless and refreshing. Through unexpected melodic turns and commanding language, these songs tell surreal, yet relatable stories.
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.