Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Album of the Week: Now & Then by Westbound

Westbound is an amazing musical duo from Houston Texas. Consisting of one-man-band John Stoll and musical songbird Rebecca Ferguson, Westbound plays authentic American roots music. While Nashville and Austin fight over the face of Country music, Westbound beautifully represents the heart of Country. Without overdoing production or attitude, Westbound gets right to the essence of the music. With an organic sound that seems to bubble up from the earth itself and flow clear and pure as a mountain stream, Now & Then is a trip in time to the very beginnings of American music. Like T Bone Burnett's masterful production of the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, Now & Then represents a time and place before mass communication, when singing was only done by those with something to say. Even so, Rebecca's voice brings these songs to life in the present tense. Her haunting portrayal of the jilted lover in "Railroad Boy," makes you feel the pain of lost love when she sings how she died "to show the world that I died for love." Her lilting, yet powerful voice is used to wonderful effect in the revival-like songs, "Go Down Moses" and "Wayfaring Stranger." She brings full emotional impact to each of these songs of love and love lost, and sin and salvation. The sparse, melodic rhythms of John's acoustic guitar and banjo perfectly pair and blend with Rebecca's earthy voice. And although much of the album tells of loss and regret, one of the highlights is "At Dawning (I Love You)." Simple, yet elegent Rececca sings, "When the dawn flames in the sky, when the birds wake and cry, when the day shines anew, I love you." This is as honest and sincere a confession of love as I've heard put to music. Westbound has created a beautifully harmonious blending of voice and instrument, of lyric and song and of past and present. You can bet that I'll be listening to this album more than just "Now & Then."

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