Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: The Well Wishers - Dreaming Of The West Coast

Consistency is a great thing, especially when it comes to artistic endeavors. Musicians so often are afflicted with wild swings in mood, temperament, interest level or even taste that their work can be a roller coaster of thrilling highs and disappointing lows. As a result the artist that puts out consistently good work is something to appreciate.

Jeff Shelton's project The Well Wishers was a prototypical example of such consistency.

Until now.

Dreaming of the West Coast is not a solid body of good work consistent with the rest of The Well Wishers' catalog. No, its way better than that.

From the first note of the jaunty opener "Escape the Light" to the fade out (and fade back in) of the wonderful Sugar-esque album ender "Mother Nature" Shelton is firing on all creative cylinders here. The result is the first Well Wishers album that really doesn't lend itself to the easy comparisons (for example The Posies) that would have sufficed when reviewing the earlier albums. The influences are so organic here it winds up sounding most like itself.

Thus you can hear the glam rock beat in the track "Tonight" but the song itself is something entirely different. This high quality in the songwriting stands out throughout the album. The introspective tunes "Nothing Ever Changes Around Here" and "Truth Is Coming Home," as well as the blistering "All I Got" deserve special mention in this regard. Add a fab cover of Smoke's "Have Some More Tea" and you are in "more fun than a barrel full of monkeys" territory.

Grade: A

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