2 Buck Chuck
June 23, 2019:
2 BUCK CHUCK: Sugar Daddy EP (CD Baby). Four Stars **** Distinguished debut by a new Southern Soul Artist.
A new southern soul artist with an exotic pedigree (named after a two-dollar Charles Shaw wine sold at Trader Joe's) and unlikely origins (Des Moines, Iowa, now living in Oakland), 2 Buck Chuck slipped unnoticed into last year's southern soul market with a five-song EP called Sugar Daddy. The first single to hit the charts didn't come until January of 2019. Beginning with a raucous "Do the ladies run this mutha?" "Hell, yeahhh!", "In The Club" had an almost startling immediacy: simple, robust instrumentation, free-wheeling organ-style keyboards, and a powerful vocalist reminiscent of the late Mel Waiters.
2 Buck Chuck EP (Promo, Unpublished) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.
"Sugar Daddy" followed in April of 2019, with another hard-hitting rhythm track and organ joined with a tasty, singular lead guitar and a vocal that couldn't have had more Mississippi Delta swagger if the singer had lived his entire life in Greenville, Yazoo City or Philadelphia (Mississippi, not Pennsylvania). Even the cover art, done in a colorful, cartoon style that would jump out at you from the record-store bins, reflected the immediacy, simplicity and humor of the music.
With other audience-friendly songs like "I Couldn't Pull It Out" and "Clean Up On Aisle 6," the EP fairly shouted from the rooftops that here was an artist in full, fresh, first love with the southern soul genre. And there's nothing more true and satisfying than a new artist tackling southern soul with fresh perspective impossible for veteran artists to reclaim. Those first, heady days when southern soul comes through like a blazing vision are almost exclusively the purview of the uninitiated.
So it was with some astonishment that your Daddy B. Nice received a new EP of 2 Buck Chuck songs not yet available commercially that--lo and behold--finds Chuck turning his back on the powerful simplicity and directness of the Sugar Daddy EP. Did some misguided "expert" give 2 Buck Chuck the wrong advice? Did someone tell him to "clean it up"? Did someone tell him to get more sophisticated, i.e. "urban"?
"Haters Gone Hate" is the best of the new quartet of songs (most not yet available on YouTube). Imagine a little Vick Allen-style instrumentation sprinkled on a 2 Buck Chuck track and you have a sense of the track. Voice-overs--especially the female voice--help keep the tune in the southern soul arena, but the crude "edge" of the SUGAR DADDY EP is lost. And the other tracks--"I Can Show You," "Duncan Heinz" and "A Good Man"--likewise are diluted rather than strengthened by 2 Buck Chuck's efforts to "stretch out" and expand his musical horizons. Not that they're bad or negligible songs. They just don't have the raw, career-making potency of SUGAR DADDY.
So I am rushing out this review to warn 2 Buck Chuck: Don't sacrifice the very thing that makes you stand out. Don't diversify. Don't show us all the styles in your bag. Keep that Sugar Daddy edge that makes you stand out from the pack.
--Daddy B. Nice.
Buy 2 Buck Chuck's Sugar Daddy EP at CD Baby.
--Daddy B. Nice