CHARLIE WORSHAM THE BEGINNING OF THINGS

First single ‘Old Times’ Sake’ is a pretty good standard bearer for the superiority it heralds – rhythmic soul, classic licks and solid story-telling. It is cool, confident and idiosyncratic.

Worsham seemed slightly over-polished on his 2013 debut Rubberband, so this clever, quirky collection comes as a welcome surprise. Worsham still indulges in studio slickness – this is a major label through and through, a record driven by pro musicians and packaged as a gleaming object – but he shifts directions from song to song, moving from gentle fingerpicking folk to simmering soul, even cooking up a country-disco groove for ‘Birthday Suit.’ This is one of several songs deliberately played for laughs, and Worsham’s way with a joke is one of the best things about Beginning of Things. With its bubbling hook and train-track rhythm, ‘Lawn Chair Don’t Care’ is worthy of prime Roger Miller and ‘Take Me Drunk I’m Home’ highlights his clever wordplay. But Worsham isn’t merely a jokester. He has a keen eye for detail and storytelling that gives his songs of love, nostalgia, and the South a sense of place and time; even when he follows convention, he puts his own spin on familiar material.