Hans Chew has traveled a long way from Tennessee to Georgia to New Orleans to East Harlem, and sang many songs along his journey. But what happens when a ramblin' man stops moving? Chew's fourth studio album represents a satisfying evolution in Hans's brand of piano-based Americana and R&B. While his past work was consumed with themes of searching and longing, Open Sea brings to the surface different questions about being a man: equanimity in chaos, permanence of choices, the meaning of work. To paraphrase a Gary Snyder poem, it's about finding your piece of land and working it. It's not about settling, but it is about settling in.
Hans plays guitar himself on Open Sea, along with his usual rollicking piano and bluesy R&B vocalizing. Tapping the Rhyton rhythm section of Rob Smith on drums and Jimy SeiTang on bass, along with his long-time collaborator Dave Cavallo on guitar, Hans finds his most agile and sensitive band yet, stretching songs to longer lengths, with confident exploration and roaring jams. Cavallo, especially, is a secret weapon, showing a restrained musicality, sense of rhythm, and rock and roll verve that at its best recalls Keith Richards or Ronnie Wood.
In writing and recording Open Sea, Hans Chew's main musical influences were classic ‘60s/'70s American and British rockers: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Fairport Convention, Mighty Baby, and the Grateful Dead.