Chris Antonik: Better For You Review

2013 promises to be a big year for Toronto local Chris Antonik.  Following his debut to Canada’s blues scene with his self-titled release in 2010 (which earned him a slot in the Roots Music Report Top 100 charts), and a whirlwind of stops at nearly every major blues festival in the country, Antonik is preparing to do it all again.  This time, Better For You boasts an impressive collection of collaborators and the recording skills of sound engineer Jeremy Darby (U2, Mick Jagger).  The album itself gets right to the point instantly – from start to finish, Better For You is an exploration of blues rock n’ roll in the most traditional sense.

Electric pianos, harmonicas, horns, and, of course, the ever-present all-American Fender Stratocaster mix and mingle in a very familiar way.  Luckily for Antonik, familiar doesn’t necessarily mean dull.  The energy on Antonik’s sophomore release is sometimes purely joyful, like in “Nothing I Can Do,” and at other times entirely melancholic.  Antonik’s guitar pretty well cries in “Shake Me Down,” and the title track dances around the occasional slow fill coupled with a quick riff to break the rhythmic pattern.  One of the album’s highlights is easily the Big Walter Horton cover, “Have a Good Time.”   Acoustic guitar work accompanies heavy harmonica puffing.  “Nothing I Can Do” also stands out, managing an almost-funky sound through the combination of horns and electric piano.  This song features an impressive vocal performance from Josh Williams.

Occasionally, the album draws from some southern inspiration, most notably on the first two tracks and the cover.  Better For You succeeds in finding a definitive sound with ample space to move around.  From the sexy “I’ll Help You Through” to the rockabilly-esque “Turn to Shine,” Antonik wields his guitar as someone with the authority to do so.  If Antonik’s end goal is simply to “have a good time, and to rock n’ roll all night long,” Better For You does that and then some.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Turn to Shine
– Long Way to Go
– Have a Good Time
– Nothing I Can Do

The Big Hit

– Turn to Shine

 Review by Richard MacDougall

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