Cameron West is an accomplished singer-songwriter from Los Angeles currently residing in New York at Bard College. West continues to hold residencies in both locations while crafting material and recording. He has had the privilege of performing with such greats as David Byrne and Natalie Merchant, but he remains a humble artist so true to his companions that he enlisted several students from Bard to play on his album Forest Through the Trees. What a great way to promote their work and supply his sound with the refined skills of fellow musical peers?
West marries piano and emotional rock like only the great Ben Folds can. Heads up, this album sounds much like his work so if you get down with Folds you’ll be right at home with Forest Through the Trees. Even if you’re not familiar, this brand of relaxed rock is perfect for the listener looking for something new and yet non-progressive. I hear a few sprinklings of Dave Matthews influence as well, specifically their early ‘90s sound mixed with Matthew’s vocal eccentricities and unique phrasing.
The album has good flow with introspective valleys and drive-inspiring peaks; each track complemented by West’s close attention to musicality and detail, making the album feel like one unit while still exploring different themes and moods. It’s hard to find an instrument so consistently associated with conveying beauty and sadness quite like the piano, so taking that into consideration, West doesn’t overdo it on either end of the scale - just full, moving chords anchoring entrancing melodies.
West’s lyrics paint the tales of dissolving friendships and lovers, suicide, college life as a whole and the always thought-provoking existence of God. "Honest Captain" and “All But Insane” mingle 7/8 time with 4/4 to create an interesting groove in the pop/ballad vein. The standout track for me is “Spiders” although I think the title could be reconsidered. I lost myself in the piano interlude and really felt some true passion coming through in breadth of chords. This composition is a great example of how powerful the piano can be when colored with melancholy.
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