C.K. Flach - 'Empty Mansions'
Singer-songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist C.K. Flach is an artist who creates a big impact on his album “Empthy Mansions” as he explores politics, racism, division and corruption through song, storytelling and spoken-word. Flach states, “I think music is the strongest medium we have to share ideas, feelings and views. And what I hope for is that whoever listens to my music can take something away with them. Be it a thought, feeling, idea or inspiration.” After listening to “Empty Mansions” it would be impossible to walk away empty-handed; “Empty Mansions” is anything but empty. It is filled with the kind of music that comes from deep inner and outer exploration and observation.
The first song off the album is “Lazarus.” The song starts off strong as the acoustic guitar leads in the full arrangement. The arrangement mellows out with the addition of vocals for the start of the first verse. Flach’s vocals come in crystal clear with a deeply resonating classic folk sound and a gentle warm tone that is complimented by female harmonies during the chorus. “Lazarus” is a great start to the album with its big instrumental presence, soothing and poetic lyrics set to sweet melodies. Up next is the ballad, “Boxcar Dreaming.” Kicking off with pulsing chords, Flach sings, “How high can you fly? Hey Sarah Jane it's summertime and the wilderness cries out in a curious way.” Here Flach showcases his personal story-telling aptitude and poetic sensibilities with extremely colorful imagery. This heartfelt song is riddled with emotion and passion that bleeds through the fabric. A fantastic addition to the album, “Boxcar Dreaming” is sure to be a crowd favorite. Check out the live performance:
Track 3, “Tranquilized,” steps back a bit utilizing a less busy track allowing Flach’s earthy vocals to be illuminated. Throughout the album, the tasteful arrangements revolve around the rhythm acoustic guitar; this track introduces a lovely mandolin solo that adds a nice Americana flavor. The change of pace provided by “Tranquilized” makes for a great transition to the next song, “Munich.” “Munich” is a deeply moving song with poignant lyrics. “You’re lucky I’m so forgiving. Understand the sadness we live in. Are we living?” A harmonic solo brings the song home as it travels down a sentimental and longing path that traces the history of drug addiction and healing. A spoken section ends the song, “It’s a cold crazy world out there.” Track 5, “Calamity,” sings you through a story with a somber timbre as the instrumentals and melodies wash over you in waves. “You say he’s not the boy you raised. Yeah that’s what you say. Oh calamity. Look in the mirror. Tell me what you see.” The songs speaks to issues of abuse. There is no doubt Flach’s moving ballads tackle serious issues that strike at the heart and mind.
Two more songs of note are the “Officer” and “Queen Caroline,” tracks 6 and 7, both bold and powerful. Presenting his spoken-word chops as the percussion holds down the beat, interlaced with lead guitar motifs, “Officer” is smooth and chilling at the same time. This song is about privilege, the criminal justice system and women’s rights, in particular victim blaming and shaming. “Queen Caroline” is another spoken piece that breaks off into a melodic chorus, “Where the pretty boys write poems down and wild girls sing the blues. Bye and Bye Queen Caroline Where have you gone to?” This song details domestic violence, rape and murder by a rich guy who thinks his money can wash away his crime. Bravo to Flach for his unabashed and unapologetic feminism and humanism.
Three tracks end the album, “Empty Mansions” – “Oh, they’ll tear you apart. Empty Mansions and hollow hearts” and “Machine Gun” – “Hey Mister Machine Gun Man marching down the war path again. What did they do to force your hand?” Track Ten ends out the album with “Firmament” a poem read aloud. “False Prophets spreading their insane doctrines in the back of a patriotic plague spurring judgement on the young ones, the new masses whom brick by brick raindrop and landslide are dismembering the pyramids and facades in the name of Renaissance.” This spoken piece is silent, musically, except for a light hollow gong that starts and ends the poem. ‘Empty Mansions’ sings and speaks volumes about Flach’s talent as a writer. The album is like a ten room mansion, each room decorated with thoughtful poetic and musical detail, inviting you to come in and discover message and meaning, to be emotionally moved and mindful. Currently, Flach is working on a Northeast tour in June and an album later this year. For more information, please visit his website or Bandcamp.