E.P. REVIEW: Sinners and Saints by Calvin Rainwater

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Calvin Rainwater is a country singer/songwriter who was born and raised in Arizona. A musical child, he began playing guitar at just eight, learning to play by hanging out with local musicians and picking up riffs. For seven years he performed in a band with friends called Common Ground Country, which became very successful on the live circuit for several years but sadly the drummer was rendered disabled from a spinal deterioration disease.

Since then, Calvin has developed as a solo artist, performing at open mic/jam nights to great acclaim. He regards his main influences as country legends like Don Williams, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Keith Whitley, regarding himself halfway between Jennings and Gordon Lightfoot. This six track EP is his debut release.

It starts with the lyrically powerful title track, Sinners and Saints. It’s a very apposite song about religion, more specifically the moral hypocrisy of the Church. Starting with picked acoustic guitar and fiddle, Calvin’s rich, deep voice enters and it’s perfect for the material. The lyrics pull no punches in criticizing the Church: “They say I should love my brother while they backstab each other and they do it all for personal gain……the devil’s not the one to blame…”. A fantastic, bravely honest song about a subject that has never been more relevant.

Second song God Has Sent Me An Angel is a more traditional kind of country song, a deeply romantic ballad as the title implies. Calvin gives a sensitive and passionate vocal performance, convincingly portraying the feeling that you’re to blame for causing your loved one to suffer, perfectly encapsulated on the chorus: “God sent me an angel and I put her through hell….”. A very fine piece of well-crafted songwriting.

The lighter-hearted If We Could Go Fishing One More Time is poignant in a different way. It’s a nostalgic and reflective song about looking back to his childhood, when he went fishing with his father. It’s a subject many will be able to relate to, especially missing a loved one who has passed over. Even more movingly, the second verse imagines him on the other side, fishing with both his father and grandfather. Lovely song and a potential single.

Chloey Marie is another touching song, though this one is more upbeat and rockier, for the first time featuring distorted electric guitar. It’s about spending time with his daughter but in a difficult relationship situation with her mother, who has left them. Again, these kind of family problems are a subject many will connect with, and it’s one treated with honesty and sensitivity by Rainwater.

Fifth song Tonight I Told My Dream Girl Goodbye is a heartbreak ballad in the classic tradition. It captures the melancholy and anguish of a close relationship ending, with a particularly emotional performance from Calvin, especially on moving lines like, “If I die before I wake and I leave this world behind, I pray the Lord my soul to take ‘cos tonight I told my dream girl goodbye….”.

That’s the last track officially on the EP and its a fine way to close it, though there I’d also a bonus track called The Boulevard, co-written with Henry Mittnacht, Billy Playle and Matt Morgan-Shaw. It’s another one about a broken heart, but this one has a darker edge as the protagonist has turned to drink: “Maybe tomorrow things will change and the shakes will go away….”.

Overall, this is a first rate collection of country songs from an artist who bares his soul and sings honestly about both the good and bad things in life, like genuine artists always do. His songwriting style is mature and highly developed, plus he’s blessed with a voice that is strong and as authentic as his songs. This EP will win over many country music fans, especially those who appreciate songwriting that comes from the heart.

 

VERDICT: 8.9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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