Sunday, February 8, 2015

AP Review: We Are The West - "Regards" - Beautiful Scars

When you listen to the 3 intimately rendered folk songs on "Regards" by We Are The West you might be surprised to find out how they were crafted. Brett Hool and John Kibler recorded the songs live in Sebastopol, California away from home tucked in a small room keeping clear of the rain falling outside. When they listened to the recordings later they decided to call musicians of note, their friends, to contribute their artistry to the songs. And so they did with wonderful results.

When you listen to the title tracked Regards you can feel the earnest live touches. The guitar slides, buzzes and ambient noise (is that faint rain in the background?) all perfectly imperfect. What you also hear is such a heartfelt tender vocal performance that it pours directly into your heart. Thankfully, the after touches like Jesse Olsen Bay on pump organ and Beth on cymbals are so wonderfully placed. All the contributors put such a tender embrace on their performances and that is what makes them each special.

The Thin Red Line written by the duos close friend Michael Bush moves in unexpected ways, is truly lovely and maybe the most vast track of the three. The cadence has a vagabond heart, lyrics get dark and Dina Maccabee's emotional violin lines working off the vocal performance creates drama and tension. The opening track Hold On, at first, feels like a traditional Americana folk befitting of a porch concert and then skews into a darkly dreamy place with sad accordion played by Marie Abe. Elizabeth Goodfellow's background vox and percussion combined with the broken vocal performance turns the first simple folk song into something emotionally dissonant and complex.

Brett and John refer to this EP as an aural postcard and if you extend that analogy it makes you wonder from what emotional place it was sent (and why.)  It is at once so beautiful and moving but also so scarred and beautifully sad as the cold rain falling in the background.
Robb Donker

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