IF CHUCK PROPHET has honed one skill in his 20-plus-year music career, it's his sharp lyrical style that captures direct sentiments rather than linear narratives. On "Doubter Out of Jesus (All Over You)," a track on his new CD, "Soap and Water," Prophet growls, "You could make a doubter out of Jesus/You could make a monkey out of me," with such disdain that you don't need to know the song's back story to understand how he feels.
Prophet incorporates jazz ("Downtime") and blues ("Small-Town Girl") into his songs as he continues his genre-hopping tradition. But he is at his best when he does not stray far from his Americana sound: On "I Can Feel Your Heartbeat," Prophet's twang is echoed by Stephanie Finch's sweet voice, and the result is a catchy alt-country pop song. His dry vocals capture his wistful melancholy on "Would You Love Me?" and give him the air of a weary saloon-traveling balladeer.