Jon Ladner, songwriter and frontman of Winesburg, has performed and toured with numerous other musical acts over the years. Winesburg is his latest collaboration, and along with his wife Rachel Ladner and other contributors, Winesburg has released a self-titled album Winesburg, a sweet balance of rustic Americana, alternative rock and country.
Quiet piano chords open the album in “Fire and Lightning” and as Ladner leads the song forward with thoughtful lyrics and smooth singing, the dynamics gradually increase up until the resounding climax near the song’s ending. “Classic Car Graveyard” follows with a full band soundscape complete with electric guitars, harmonica, percussion and organ synthesizers.
After an energetic “Olympus Mons,” Winesburg highlights its musical agility, delving into a wistful, yet hopeful, power ballad that features a classic blend of piano and guitar riffs as accompaniment to Ladner’s strong vocals. Slowing down a bit in the intro of “Rearview Mirror,” minimal percussion and chording underlie Ladner’s singing. As the somber song progresses, vocal harmonies from Rachel Ladner strengthen the aura of the tune, and the rhythm solidifies.
The uplifting, country-infused attitude of Winesburg returns in the upbeat “Did You Know that I Would Love You” and continues in the softer, more reflective “Rothko Chapel,” a highly harmonious track as haunting as it is beautiful. The next song “Mountaintops” is a catchy, polished song with elements of country, pop and rock blended together seamlessly.
The swinging, carefree rhythm of “Ruins of Time” juxtaposes the nostalgia pervading the lyrics of the song, making for a very interesting listen. The calming atmosphere is sustained in “Winter Song,” full of melodious guitar strumming and throbbing percussion that breaks into a full-fledged chorus for a brief moment, like a fleeting sun ray on a cloudy day.
The album comes to a close with “Peace,” a solid bookend for the album and a catchy combination of optimistic wording, harmonic chording and gently building strength that fades away at the end. As a whole, Winesburg is a great display of the band’s talent and ability to carry through with music ideas, and listeners of many genres should find this record to be well worth their time.
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