Album Review: The Wealthy West – Long Play
Americana can be such a strange label, everything from honkytonk country music to folk singers in sheep’s clothing. The smooth-voiced Brandon Kinder brings a genuine sound to the band The Wealthy West that is thoroughly Americana, just about as authentic as possible. If you’re a fan of Jason Isbell or Rayland Baxter, take the time to give this album a spin. You will not be disappointed.
The opening “I’ve Gotta Try” combines great vocals and steel guitar with a well-weathered piano. It all comes together for a track that drips with reality and awesomeness. “I gotta do something with my life… and I will not stop until I run out of time.” It’s a fantastic reflection on living life with authenticity and purpose. (Like – hey – go start a music blog! Or, better yet, contribute to this one. Ha!) But seriously, the sense of purpose behind the lyrics really pop with this track.
The second track “Stormy Weather” is also easily characterized by the lead vocals. The harmonies are pretty juicy on this one. “I need to head back to West Virginia… back to the place my dad was born.” The sense of roots and personal identity is so incredibly strong throughout the album, but this one really has the folk singer’s sense of narrative. It’s infinitely listenable and relatable.
“Ghost in the Garden” is another folk-influenced storyline. It has a wonderful feeling of adventure and mystique. It feels like the kind of song that should be playing in a coffeeshop. It’s about place, again, as well as providing advice and guidance to a friend. It’s sweetly done but without an ounce of kitsch. Maybe my favorite on the whole album is “I’ll Get By” strictly because of the brilliant vocal harmonies. The song is an absolute toe tapper of an anthem about, well, getting by. There’s a little bit of Partridge Family with some sneaky fun guitars as well. Even the Folds-esque piano part is enough to put a smile on my face. Put it together and you have a patented hit just waiting to be discovered!
The fingerpicking on “Come on, sailor” is really great. It introduces a pop folk song that gives listeners that live show half smile where you tilt your head and think about a girl you liked many years ago. Okay, maybe not everyone. But you know what I mean. It conjures up nostalgic emotions that are pretty much why we even like music. It’s melodic and sweetly written and even more sweetly delivered.
“We Painted Pictures” is another pop anthem about a relationship. It’s about a shared piece of artwork tied to a family’s story. It leads nicely to “Stick in the Middle,” which despite being slower, is a similarly thoughtful piece about a bright self awareness. The stripped down solo acoustic style is a nice shift from some of the larger band pieces earlier on the album, but Kinder’s vocal tone still holds up. He’s immensely talented and perhaps no more obviously than on this track.
The album ends with a piano anthem that has a minor chord progression (jazz, right?) that is sure to melt your heart. “I’m looking to the sky to help me decide where I need to go now…” It’s still got that existential set of questions from the album opener, but also includes the pragmatic notion of being “kind enough to say goodbye.” You get the sense that Kinder is a real gentleman, putting his heart right out there on his sleeve for the rest of us to enjoy the beautiful way in which he sees the world.
If you can’t tell, I really like this album. It’s one that might not make the front cover of Rolling Stone but probably should. Kinder’s talent drips from the tracks. He’s got that touch of a true songwriter. Be sure to give this album a serious spin, then share it with everyone that you love because trust me you will think of them on every track. It’s far more emotional than meets the ear the first listen, but it’s worth every moment spent in reflection.