When Chuck Prophet released The Hurting Business in 2000, he joined the genre-blurring likes of Joe Henry and Jeb Loy Nichols. Then again, Prophet had never been what you’d call a purist. Green On Red, the band he co-led with Dan Stuart, blended Stonesy raunch, folk rock, and country & desert. And while it was easy to define the roots rock of his initial solo efforts as falling halfway between Neil Young and Tom Petty, you also couldn’t miss the echoes of country soul and Memphis blues-rawk–fitting for a guy who’s written with Dan Penn and played alongside Jim Dickinson.
With No Other Love, Prophet continues to ignore borders and just say no to easy categorization. The songs have rock at their heart, but they’re busting at the seams with other musical ideas offered by supporting instruments with such sci-fi sounding names as Echoplex, Omnichord and everybody’s favorite cyborg, the Roland Rhythm 77. Songs like “What Makes the Monkey Dance,” “Elouise” (subtitled “Self-Help Boogaloo,” as if Prophet’s winking at our need to categorize) and “That’s How Much I Need Your Love” are careening, funky workouts; the writer in me just wishes that they had a little more country in ’em so I could get away with the description “Sly and the Family Carter.” Prophet’s lyrics, delivered in his rich, late-night-DJ voice, consistently jump out of the rhythmic clatter–a combination of street reporting and pop-culture poetry: “Chloe was a neighbor girl who walked ’round in a trance/A lot like Sissy Spacek at that homecoming dance.”
When Prophet goes comparatively quiet on “After the Rain” and the string-visited pair “Storm Across the Sea” and “No Other Love,” as well as the lovely, mantra-like title track, funk turns to soul. And perfection is reached on “Summertime Thing” with its irresistible cornucopia of electric guitar, dobro, pedal steel, and keyboards–a track that creates a musical block party that everybody from San Fran to Sanford should be standing in line to attend.