The Blue Collar Recital
Genre: Indie Rock
The Awake EP
West Tisbury, UK
(Little Sun Records)
“Alterna-pop tales of love, loss and release from worldly songsmith”
“Hypnotic, engaging, bass-infused singer/ songwriter EP”
“Brooding vocals, experimental compositions and introspective verses”
Singer/songwriter Wesley Cook creates more than just acoustic songs on his third studio album, Heavy. He crafts stories with singable melodies that incorporate bits of light pop and reggae, horns, keyboards, a full electric rock band, and, occasionally, acoustic guitarbased numbers. Heavy includes tales of love, loss and release, and somehow remains upbeat after the loss of Cook’s brother in the previous year. Lead single “It’s You” starts with a beefy bass line and steady drum beat, after which Cook enters with his soulful tenor, weaving a descriptive tale of a missed connection that should not have been missed. Following up that sentiment brings another bass-heavy song, “With a Little Love,” a slow, mellow love song with soft, ’80s-style keyboards. “Heavy” and “Give Me Something to Believe In” are crafty, wordy, upbeat tales of everyday life. The danceable, flirty “Up the Wall” and dreamy “Where We Want to Be” accentuate Cook’s acoustic guitar playing the best, and could easily be carried out without extra instrumentation, but flourishes from other instruments lend a lot of character to the songs.
Will Cady’s new collection of tunes opens with “Pieces,” as a deceptively cool backwards guitar riff lifts to reveal the main track, anchored by sweetly picked acoustic guitar tones and a hypnotic, groove-filled bass current. Strong bass lines seem to be an ever-present motif on the record, sonically filling out what could have been another standard singer/songwriter effort. Nowhere is its effectiveness more present than on “What Fills the Gap,” which is structured around a thumping, pumping bottom end that just doesn’t quit. It’s a quasi-mix of funk and folk, with an electronic-sounding drum pattern filling in the percussion role, not unlike better Postal Service songs. Bass exits the picture, however, on the aptly titled finale, “Lullaby.” It’s a beautiful way to close the record, as a haunting acoustic guitar plays subtly underneath an equally haunting, yet gentle, vocal melody. The hushed vocals evoke the best of Elliott Smith, circa “Needle in The Hay,” without being derivative. All in all, Cady’s latest collection of songs will please indie fans in general, spanning multiple genres and styles. If you dig emotional songwriting, as well as strong melodies coupled with gorgeous production, The Awake EP is a fantastic way to get centered.
It’s been a long six years since alt country singer/songwriter Willy Mason produced a full-length album. Carry On, recently released on Communion Records, is his latest endeavor and a testament to the benefits of some time off. Mason’s signature deep and crooning vocals shine throughout the album, paired beautifully with acoustic and electric guitar chords. This time around Mason has gotten a bit more experimental, incorporating a variety of instruments and styles not heard on previous works. Synthesized notes and tribal drumbeats are the foundation of tracks like “Talk Me Down” and “I Got Gold,” showcasing an intentional expansion of sound and style. “Show Me the Way to Go Home” and “Shadows in the Dark” are hauntingly pared-down songs driven by brutally honest and heartfelt lyrics and the barebones compositions the artist has long been known for. Mason’s deeply introspective and brooding sentiments remain the focal point of the record, creating an atmosphere of seeming melancholia but with linings of hope. The variety of compositions and styles are captivating and demonstrate a continued growth in style of play. Carry On is the perfect re-introduction to Mason after a lengthy hiatus.
Produced by Will Cady
Engineered by Alexis Smith and Dan Carey
Drum Programming by Greg Settino
Mastered by John Dent at Loud Mastering
Produced by Brady Blade Engineered by Chris Bell Recorded at Blade Studios, Shreveport, Louisiana www.wesleycook.com
Produced by Dan Carey
OCTOBER 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45
featuring King Khan & The Shrines