From that first hard crush to the ins and outs of romantic relationships and commitments, the theme of love serves as the inspiration for This I Promise You, the latest release from Chris Hassett, a local San Diego singer deserving of far greater recognition.
It’s only recently that I’ve become familiar with Hassett and his singing, having first encountered him with the release of his Christmas CD this past year. How could I have been unaware of him for so long? He is simply one of the best male singers here in San Diego. A baritone with strength and clarity, he just nails the notes and phrases. He reminds me of those old country singers like Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold, who simply sang and sang well. Hassett also has a way of settling in and getting comfortable with a tune, giving songs a beguilingly easy delivery.
Hassett wrote all of the songs on Promise, 11 in all. As the liner notes indicate, he drew on his experiences and relationships for the songs’ inspiration and subject matter. Though they are almost all love songs, Hassett visits about a half dozen different popular genres, from country and rock, to R&B and heartfelt ballads. These different styles, as well as a touch of humor here and there and a nice variety of tempos, keep the disk lively and make it a real pleasure.
Drew Massicot provides the keyboards and almost all the other accompaniment on the disk. Like Hassett, he well executes the differing genres. I particularly liked the feel he gives “I Wanna Feel the Heat,” a take-no-prisoners barrelhouse road tune. John Katchur joins the duo on a couple of the disk’s rockers and ads some biting lead guitar.
“We Are the Village,” a rousing anthem, and a few other songs sound so large that it’s difficult to believe that this disk was recorded and produced in Massicot’s home studio. That being said, there were a few times that I wished the instrumentation, which is all electronic, had included a real piano, bass, or drums. At times the electronic instrumentation is just not an equal match for Hassett’s voice.
The two tunes that particularly caught my ear are “I Cried For You,” a sweet tune in the mold of one of Patsy Cline’s torch songs, and the song in which he channels Andrew Lloyd Webber, “Give Me Your Arms.” “I Cried For You” fits the Patsy Cline mold so well that I wish I could hear it coming out of a jukebox while I down a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. And it’s a pleasure to hear Hassett really cut loose and belt out the lyrics of “Give Me Your Arms,” the take-home tune of This I Promise You.