Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: The Well Wishers - Dunwoody

Readers of this blog will probably have picked up on the fact that I'm partial to the work of one Jeff Shelton. (See here, here, and here for the evidence.) So, when it comes time to review another release from Shelton's one-man-band effort The Well Wishers no one will be entirely surprised to discover that I like it.

However, it's not really that simple. For starters, this particular release is an EP. EP's are notoriously variable affairs. Sometimes they are filled with half-realized demos or tracks rightfully cut from full length albums. Others collect assorted oddities or the occasional live performance to fill out the needed 5 or 6 track length, resulting in an uninspired mishmash suitable for only die-hard fans and shut-ins. Given the relatively prolific nature of Shelton's output I was a little afraid of what I would get.

I needn't have worried. In Dunwoody Shelton presents us with a suite of songs that simultaneously sound like The Well Wishers  and doesn't really sound like they would necessarily fit comfortably on any of the previous releases. There is a moody and subdued jangle here, at time evoking REM or, especially, the best Toad The Wet Sprocket. This is most evident on the gently driving "Real Today" which feels half-whispered even though it does get momentum behind it, particularly in the middle eight.

The sprightly "Open Up Your Eyes" comes closest to the classic Well Wishers sound, though it too doesn't deviate from the light melancholy that animates (as much as melancholy can) things. The track "Good Luck" is probably the heart and soul of this little release, a tuneful and folky number at once both intricate and simple, just like the best power pop often is.

Grade: B+/A-

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