Dusty Wright: Lonelyville (PetRock)
Lonelyville isn't on the map but we've all been there, a state in the states of the mind. Such being so, Dusty Wright's new album which bears that title is an epistle to an aspect of being we'd mostly prefer to ignore, let alone admit to ever having visited, travelled through or stayed at. An album from the motel in the soul.
Proceedings kick-start via the infectiously catchy title cut. With a skip in its step and an ache in its hurt, this is garage psych as defiant understatement.
"All alone atop a hill
I'm a star in Lonelyville
Living life, standing still"
Shades in shades of the late Roky Eriksson's "Creature Of The Atom Brain." Radio-friendly outsidererness perfectly realized.
"Unbearable Brightness" struts along with a sassy rock 'n' roll swagger. Defiant nonchalance, clipped concise and poised. A ghosting of female vocals from Norwegian chanteuse Cecilie Anna add sparkle, spookery and shade to Wright's deadpan and droll delivery about feeling utterly conflicted.
"But I don't know what to say
I don't know what to do
But I know you know
Just how you make me feel."
With "When Our Hearts Sing" there's an almost Appalachian country dance melancholia. A dirge festooned with nuances of inspiration embellished with long meditative chords akin to a waltz. Again Cecilie Anna showers the proceedings with near ethereal light and shade. As a waltz of death it soars, crests and lands a direct slap into the listener's very being.
"Riptide Of Love" fires into life like a gothic surf infused Robert Gordon in cahoots with The Cramps in poppy mode. A blistering song that thrives as it drives with an energy that used to fire needles from the wax grooves they were spinning through.
"Caught in a riptide of love
Don't know if we're under or above."
"One Last Time (Song For Carol)" is a melancholy baby marooned in the risk of ample space for all its sadness to show, tremble and glow. A thoroughly sorrowing breath of grace and loss, like Nick Cave at his stark reflective best. Wrights's voice blends with Cecilie Anna to create a celestial choir. This holy gem of a song is bereavement laid out and bare on a woeful and elegantly sad cello line. Stark but uplifting, a hard act to convey and so gently perfect. A lullabye laced with final goodbyes via an achingly considered vocal.
"Now I close my eyes
One last time
One last time, close my eyes..."
A near Jose Feliciano/Sixto Rodriguez edginess exudes from "To Find Love" before slip, sliding into an effortless countryness with lyrical snippets resembling lines stolen from old postcards. A swaggering sadness abetted via Queen Esther on background vocals.
"As I gazed at the night sky
A dark star was rising fast
And though I stumbled
In the darkness
I knew it would not last...
You have to to love
To find love"
"Tree Of Life" is swamp rock noir, a monochrome "Jack & Diane" from the wrong side of capitalist greed. An update of Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction" in a more dystopian guise with lightning flash guitar licks in perfect tandem with insistent drums. Gothique-go-go dressed in echoes of Chris Isaak.
Things take a scatty bubblegum turn with "Stare Into The Sun" which masquerades with deceptively flippant nods and winks of psychedelic nuance to the nursery chimes of Ohio Express, The Lemon Pipers, and The 1910 Fruit Gum Company. A defiant post modern uptempo retelling of comforting couplets, deftly delivered with tremendous aplomb. A strange twist of thoughts renewed with a hint of warning.
"The Saddest Story Never Told" arrives as the epic centre of the album. Cinematic and brooding it coils like a snake with slashes of Dusty's guitar and slithers of piano (Erik Deutsch), a soundscape soundtrack akin to David Ackles and his profoundly neglected American Gothic with Leonard Cohen in his "First We Take Manhattan" nihilism garb. The dark lyrics are a poem by Wright's bassist Kevin Mackell about a suicide. Wrights voice is riddled with pathos like a sermon from the end of the world. Distinguished gravitas reeked with sorrow, a dexterous simplicity of wordplay. Darkness shining, profoundly biblical, David Lynch should shoot a video for this.
"Making New Friends" has the jauntiness of childhood. Imagine restrained Shel Silverstien without the manic cackles. Sunshine pop sorrow with wry bleakness drenched in brittle wit. This psych malady, is a sinister expression of need and the expectation of despair. The simplicity of the wish prepared for with the pitfalls that await, a wry spry incantation. Deceptively nonchalant, utterly dark.
"I'm playing with mud again
I'm building a brand new friend.
I just like to make...
Make new friends."
"Leaving Lonelyville" is the closing shindig farewell, an animated telegram of resigned exiting, it conjures images akin to the finale that pops up as an 'au revoir' in the closing seconds of elderly cartoons.
Lonelyville possesses deftness. A concept album that dissects despair, and via that impulse delivers moments of eloquent reflection, naked insights along with radio-friendly moments. A collection that deserves to be widely heard, shared, bought, stolen or treasured. It now has its ticket to ride. A mini masterpiece it holds the luxury of sounding exquisite whilst appearing absolutely effortless. Welcome to Lonelyville.