Chris Boone digs deep with his latest album, Capture My Apathy, a six-song collection of Americana that’s understated and heartfelt — songs that are vintage Southern folk with nuanced lead guitar and simple rhythms, all given warmth by Boone’s gravelly baritone.
Boone is a Palmetto State native, but he’s lived all over the world, as a child in Belgium and France and as a professional musician in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and most recently Portland, Oregon, before returning to the Lowcountry. This life of travel has certainly given him perspective on his music career. “It kind of lets you be an individual,” says Boone. “You realize that it’s not confined to how well you do here or how popular you are there or what cliques you’re in. You realize the world’s a big place.”
Boone originally left Charleston in 2006 after a series of tragedies spurred the change. “I had broken my neck in a surfing accident, so I proposed to my girlfriend at the time on the emergency table,” says Boone. “We were held up at gunpoint on Broad Street, I had to put my dog to sleep, my uncle died, and we were like, ‘It’s time to just get out of Charleston.'”
But Boone took these tribulations as inspirations, directly contributing to his songwriting. One song in particular on the album is derivative. “A song like ‘Albuquerque’ I wrote about leaving Charleston,” says Boone. “So we left, and once we made it to Albuquerque, I felt free, and that’s in the song.” But as the song unwinds, it’s also about coming back.
The message of “Albuquerque” is part of the broader theme of the album: the cycle of love and loss as we journey through life. “Love and loss are things that have happened in the past and they continue to happen,” says Boone. “Mistakes, losses — you realize that all these things repeat themselves, and so it’s kind of a perspective of appreciating tradition but also looking forward to change and progress in the future.”
With lyrics like, “Your life’s for living, it ain’t for changing/ You can’t shape the river, you can’t shape the flow,” the first track, “Your Life,” beckons the listener to just live without getting caught up in controlling every aspect of it.
There’s the uptempo “Young Love,” which, as the title suggests, is about the fluidity and uncertainty of a new relationship. Boone sings, “Sometimes the right time comes and finds you/ Sometimes the wrong time comes and blinds you/ Young love will always be crazy.”
And what good Southern-folk album would be complete without Gothic imagery, which is evident in “You Can Drink My Whiskey.” “I followed your lover to the river,” Boone sings, “and I dug a shallow grave.”
The closing track, “We’ll All Be Gone,” is the record’s only solo-acoustic performance, and it was inspired by an interaction Boone had with his neighbor, who was taking care of her elderly mother. “I came home from a gig and I saw the ambulance lights everywhere,” says Boone. “I unloaded my car real quick and went over there to see what had happened, and her mom had just passed. We were both embracing each other and tears flowing, you could feel that emotion, and so I wrote the lyrics right then.”
But even with such melancholic inspiration, “We’ll All Be Gone” is not a depressing song. Far from it. It’s about being present, and the chorus (“Don’t have regrets, live life like a song/ Celebrate all night long/ Appreciate the people that you know, ’cause one day we’ll all be gone”) brings that sentiment home.
The instrumentation on the album is a bit of a departure from Boone’s past recordings. His 2014 release, Whiskey Truth & Lies, was strictly Boone alone with his voice, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. This time around, Boone has a whole band backing him, including upright bassist Jonathan Gray. The change to include a band wasn’t exactly a conscious decision — but it was a good one. “All these things kind of accidentally happened,” he says. “The whole thing literally stumbled across the touchdown line.”