The publicity photos accompanying this release show Eli West at work in a small country chapel. In one particularly striking photo, he is seated in a pew, bathed in wan sunlight with his head bowed reverentially over his notepad with a microphone and cell phone in front of him.
This photo in particular foretells the intensity reverence and gravitas and that runs through this intriguing song collection.
West’s lyrics tend toward the minimal, yet they are cryptic and often mysterious. They are infused with transcendental imagery of the great Pacific Northwest, where he was born and raised. His warm, expansive baritone-tenor voice (shades of Michael Martin Murphy or Kenny Loggins) invites listeners to share his sense of mystery as he explores love, loss, grief and other universal life issues.
One of many impressive songs herein is “Brick In The Road,” which muses on love—not so much love won or lost, but the kind of love that dwells in a strange, uneasy place between.
Other songs, such as “Three Links In A Chain,” “Hearth,” “I Know Your Wandering Heart” and the title tune take us on similarly captivating introspective journeys.
West, who plays mandolin, guitar and banjo, is accompanied by his trio of frequent collaborators: Andrew Marlin on mandolin, Christian Sedelmeyer on fiddle and Clint Mullican on bass.
On the lighter side, they offer up some lively instrumentals, such as “Ginny’s Little Longhorn,” that are embellished with contemporary rhythmic shifts and modal interludes.
This isn’t mainstream bluegrass music by any stretch. Yet West takes listeners on an evocative journey that’s well worth taking.