Westerly is a band based in the San Francisco Bay Area that plays local clubs and bars and has been featured on local radio stations as well. Their third album Fire in the Evergreens features 12 tracks of a mix of folk and rock. They are influenced by folk writers such as Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen and use storytelling, three part harmonies and an interesting take on love, spirituality and the political climate of the local scene to create a unique sound.
The album started with “Coal Heart Bound” which began with a cool drum intro and blended into an intense sounding folk song. Westerly has three main vocalists that switch off on lead vocals and background, each having a unique style and tone. The lead vocals in this track had almost a punk vibe and reminded me of the Murder City Devils in an obscure way.
The three-part harmonies definitely stand out and give a distinctive quality to the song. The following track “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” was completely different than the first. It had a slow, dark and sexy vibe with the female vocalist taking the lead. Her voice sounds a little like Florence Welch from Florence and The Machine and has a vast range with a deep tone. There were jazzy notes on this track which made it playful and fun.
“All the Winners” had a light, almost summery appeal with more of the complex harmonies and a fiddle solo that I really enjoyed. “San Francisco Liberals” followed that same vibe and was folk all the way. “Show Me the Light” took a rock turn with dramatic lyrics and an almost theatrical feel. The next few songs, “Hallelujah,” “Contented,” “It Will Be Found” and “No Reason to Fail” all had a similar slow and folky feel. I started to find the harmonies a little too intense at times, it became distracting and pulled me out of the mellow vibe that the verses induced. But I did enjoy them in moderation.
“Stay” featured the female lead vocal again and I have to say, every time she takes the lead the whole mood shifts. She brings a sexy, piano lounge feel to the track, minus the piano. I really dig it. “Drinking Alone” was a fun track but again I found the harmonies a little distracting. The final track “I Need You” was the stand out track for me. It had a universal folk Indie rock feel, slightly reminiscent of Mumford and Sons with extremely poetic and catchy lyrics.
Overall I really enjoyed Fire in the Evergreens. Westerly is a band that possesses a lot of diverse talent. The three-part harmonies are a unique part of their sound, I just felt that they were utilized maybe a tad too much on some tracks. Their sound has a very modern relevant feel to it that takes the best parts of folk and mixes it with the spirit of genres like rock and punk that ultimately make it a rare but needed perspective in the music scene.
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