For a number of former Americana artists, leaving the twang behind was the healthiest thing they could’ve done for their music career. Just ask Chuck Prophet. After joining the country-tinged Green on Red in 1985 and leaving five years later, Prophet spent the ’90s making roots records which almost no one but critics seemed to like (or hear). But over the course of his last three solo records—beginning with 2000’s The Hurting Business, 2002’s No Other Love and now Age of Miracles—Prophet has genre-hopped with giddy abandon, all without sacrificing his trademark sound and sensibility. Pick a track at random and you might find soul, rock, R&B, pop, funk, electronica, country or even hip-hop. Prophet grabs liberally from the American songbook and makes each style his own. He pulls it off is because he remains unswervingly true to his own vision and themes—and that’s why the songs on Age of Miracles, though populated with sad lovers, desperadoes and injustice, bring a smile to all but the most jaded listener.
Age of Miracles proves again that Prophet can rock you silly or break your heart in the space of a song. Tapping into the Philly Soul of “You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp),” the straight country of “Smallest Man in the World,” or the bluesy rock of “West Memphis Moon,” he creates opulent arrangements that fit these styles.
Prophet gets a hand on Age of Miracles from some familiar folks—wife Stephanie Finch, string arranger and keyboardist Jason Borger, and a host of studio musicians—but this is his genre-bending, musical-adventure show from the get go.