“If Love Blues” & “Fugitive”
words by tom johnson
It does something of a disservice to label every new country record as a harkening back to the past, to the good ol’ days. Perhaps it comes from the seemingly endless rush of this new age we find ourselves in, that anything which strips itself back to the core basics of the craft ~ voice, guitar, and drums ~ and carries itself with gentle, honest grace feels no longer of this world. Such music gives us a glimpse into a different world, more richly detailed but also bare-boned and analogue, a time often associated with heartfelt and human graft, with deep night skies and howls to the moon.
The Midwest Book of the Dead, a striking new double album from Ohio born, North Carolina based singer-songwriter Wes Tirey, undoubtedly feels like it’s been carried in on a breeze from such times. Across its two sprawling sides, which cover eighteen new songs, it roams and wanders with patient consideration, it rarely feels of these times, positioning itself instead as a hardened relic pulled from the ashes of a world that once was.
It also proves that such things can still offer deep resonation, even from so far away. Tirey’s voice is humble and heavy, holding heartache in its timbre as it tells these tender stories with the same graceful manner whether it sings plainly of making your love a monument or, more ambiguously, of Gin & tonics and turquoise rings.
Released this summer, the album is his first with Dear Life Records, the equally compelling label which has, over the past couple of years, made a name for itself with releases from Hour, MJ Lenderman, Natalie Jane Hill, and many more. The fit feels like a natural one, and The Midwest Book of the Dead grows new legs today with the sharing here of two new songs, one from each side.
From Side One comes ‘If Love Blues’, a captivating ballad led by Tirey’s’ crooning voice which is gradually joined by a shuffle of drums and aching guitar adornments. Across its near five minute journey, Wes sings of crooked crosses on the county line, of blood moons and fever dreams in ways that immediately immerse the listener in his dimly lit, Midwestern world, the rolling nature of his performance only enhancing the subtle magic that lingers like clouds in a night sky.
‘Fugitive’ is perhaps even more restrained, a simply strummed guitar the only backdrop his weary voice needs as he sings more poetically of Arizona and vague flashes of memory, of sentences half-spoken and cut short. As introductions go, both songs here act as a fascinating glimpse into Tirey’s new & old world, one which you can step fully inside of upon its full release on April 30th. Grab a pre-order here and listen to the two cuts below.
A Music Journal ~ Issue 8
Our Curious Printed Magazine
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