Chase McBride’s painterly folk is imbued with pop optimism, his sense for rhythm and melody, and his gentle voice. His previous albums Cold Water and Green Shade have found viral success on streaming platforms, but about his latest Pink Lemonade he says “This album, from an aesthetic standpoint, feels the most like me.” The album was co-produced Andrew Heringer (Milo Greene), prolific songwriter, producer and engineer, and recorded at Heringer’s Mirror Wall Studio in Beachwood Canyon, LA. “He understood the vision that I had for these songs and was adept at channeling that into a recorded version; also creating an environment where I felt comfortable enough to experiment and try sounds whether or not they were going to work...”
The lightly percussive, acoustic, title track is a story about a millennial woman, who stays stocked up on cans of pink lemonade. Her trips through the city to find her favorite beverage result in various ruminations, banal and extraordinary as the city itself. Chase explains “Those quirks are what endear me to people, and when I was reflecting on the immensity of Los Angeles, I was imagining all the unique people with bizarre little quirks and habits coexisting and contributing to the beautiful chaos of that city."
McBride immersed himself in Los Angeles for the project, staying at Heringer’s studio and exploring beyond its tourist traps during his off time. As someone who grew up in Montana, the city had been enigmatic and mythical to him. His time their helped him understand its vastness, variety of communities, and his own misconceptions about life in the metropolis. In the process McBride was able to direct his experiences towards his song-writing.
Pink Lemonade illuminates McBride’s fine arts training as a painter. The shadows of his folk music are contrasted by his pop music flare. In finding his voice he’s able to shed light on the lives of the characters in his songs. There’s an egalitarianism to his work, celebrating every person in his investigation of Los Angeles, from an upbeat pop song about a lonely person in the pub (“Help Me”) to a gorgeous vocal effort about a relationship ending in the public eye (“Find A Home”). Like an Edward Hopper painting, this exhibition of life, lighting, and shadows, makes every situation interesting, and also leaves room for interpretation. This kind of songcraft allows listeners to envision themselves in the songs.
Chase has been thinking about songs his whole life. Working in a touring band during the weekends in his college years brought him experience in the industry. As a child he grew up close to his grandfather, who was a Dixieland Jazz player. In a musical family he learned trumpet, euphonium, drums, and guitar. Early on McBride became curious about the moods Beethoven’s music could inspire. “The first song that made an impression on me was “Moonlight Sonata”. I remember listening to that to the point that my dad got tired of it and made me turn it off. I was obsessed with how sound could make me feel, and the places that it took me. Shaping that energy and trying to make it myself has been my path since then.” Influence is also drawn from beat poet Allen Ginsberg, spiritual philosophers Ram Dass, and Alan Watts, and particularly Kentucky poet Wendell Berry.