Album Review: Chad Elliott & the Redemptions — Rest Heavy

Chad Elliott & the Redemptions

Rest Heavy

Rest Heavy, the newest release from Iowa native Chad Elliott, opens with an arpeggiated piano riff and cymbal crash before launching into a leaned-back, eyes-closed, soulful-howl gospel-blues tune of which Sam Cooke would have approved. The title track perfectly sets the stage for the songs to follow, which cover serious ground in terms of genres and tonal focuses. Fortunately, Elliott easily chameleons his voice to match the tone, style and nuanced emotional inflections that each song style demands. As he croon-wails his way through tracks that range from hardscrabble stories and ain’t-life-like-that tunes to songs of somber reflection, his constellation of influences is clear, with stylized moments and melodic arrangements that evoke the likes of Tom Waits, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and Doc Watson.

While the album has many standout moments, the standoutiest is the fourth track, “Shining Stars.” The musicianship is on point throughout the entire album, but the vocal and instrumental arrangements on this track are the most restrained and nuanced, with a moody, country, Telecaster-guitar backing that creates an anthemic feeling and blends perfectly with Elliott’s somber phrasings. The ponderous, calm consideration that comes from staring at a night sky is captured in a remarkable and subtly powerful way, and you will find yourself easily singing the song’s hook, “Shining stars burn deep in the night,” long after the album is done playing.

As a whole, Rest Heavy is a high-energy, dynamic work. One of the best parts about listening to the album is the clear sense you get that Elliott is having the time of his life playing and recording these songs. Considering that these tracks were laid down at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s not hard to understand why. Still, hearing the joy in an artist’s voice from the pure pleasure of making music makes that music that much more enjoyable. Rest Heavy is available Aug. 10: Check it out.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 247.

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »



Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

Don’t let other people’s opinions win.

Vote for your favorite people, places and events in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area! In a time when local businesses need our support more than ever, your vote will send a little love to the places that make our community special. And don’t forget to tell us why—the best comments will be published in our December Best of the CRANDIC 2021 issue! Voting ends September 30.

Read the Best of the CRANDIC issue, on stands now

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.