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For those who occasionally make it out to venues like Sir Benedict’s, the musicians Wes Hadrich and Greg Tiburzi might be familiar names. The two have been performing together for awhile and Hadrich usually takes on the acoustic guitar and vocal duties while Tiburzi handles the percussion end of things. With their latest album, “Naturally Blue,” they have a great line up of backing musicians with Steve Isakson (electric guitar/mandolin), Rich Mattson (bass) and Mike Randolph (pedal steel guitar). The album was recorded at Sparta Sounds Studios by Rich Mattson. In this aspect, what is happening overall is a solid and well done album.
This album touches on life’s struggles as many albums do in this genre. The second track, “How it Goes,” caught my attention. I like xylophone and pedal steel and in a lot of ways those elements really carry the song. Hadrich paints the picture of himself on a beautiful day in a “canyon town” and despite the day, he’s still feeling in the dumps. “I shouldn’t be sad, life ain’t so bad, but you know how it goes,” Hadrich sings in the chorus. It’s not exactly happy but it doesn’t exactly crawl under the skin. While the musicianship of the album is good and the lyrics aren’t bad, I was left hoping that there would be something just a little more on this album and I’ll attempt to explain.
The track, “Winter Love,” is about how a love interest makes Hadrich feel inadequate yet he’s still attached. She leaves for the winter and will probably hook up with someone else. “I could never turn my back on her, yeah that’s always been a hard thing to do, harder than the river will be soon,” goes the chorus. The song has a nice groove to it and the highlights of the electric guitar works out nicely.
The track, “Naturally Blue,” highlights the feel of the album. Again Hadrich brings up feeling down on a nice day, “it’s spring time here, the weather is warm, the sun is shining, children they play, I walk alone, I wish it would rain, and everyone would run and I could be alone,” Hadrich sings in the first verse. “I’m naturally alone, I’m naturally let down, most of all, I’m naturally blue,” goes the chorus. While the lyrics are fairly depressing and deals with break ups, rejection and disappointment, there is still something somewhat upbeat about the songs as far as the instruments go that’s a little puzzling. I understand that this is Hadrich’s writing style, but it’s hard to empathize with how the songs are delivered. Most people have had some ups and downs in life, myself included, but I didn’t feel the experiences Hadrich was bringing out as I think he intended. The music is fine, but it stays restrained in a way where if you’re listening to it and it makes sense, but the listener is left hanging without getting the total feeling of what the song should probably contain.
I think the most fitting song is, “Lucky Sometimes,” it is perhaps the least down and out song on the album and the lyrics follow the hint of optimism that the music is conveying. It’s a nice ending to the album. Who doesn’t like having something finally work out for them?
While the album is good, the main hurdle that it faces is that it is another country/folk, singer/songwriter album for the area. I’m not going to say that taking this route is necessarily bad, there is just a considerable amount of similar material out there and that sets the bar pretty high. The Minneapolis indie/country group, The Pines, charges a $20 admission for some of their shows these days and apparently there are people who pay that to see them. The reason people pay that is because at times they deeply touch on emotions with how their songs are created. While Hadrich and Tiburzi’s album touches on some emotional aspects, it doesn’t exactly convince the listener with enough intensity. The other day my roommate posted on Facebook about how he was really moved by Radiohead’s “Exit Music.” There’s no doubt that he’s heard the song many times, but it still gets at him and that kind of lasting emotional intensity is the difference between a good song and a great song. It’s not exactly a very complicated song but it packs a punch. An extreme example is Schubert’s “Ave Maria.” Music, especially an album, should be an experience and really take the listener somewhere. Whether it be to dance, cry or get hurt in a mosh pit, creating whatever chemical reaction that happens in the brain when someone listens to one’s music is perhaps the most important thing a musician can accomplish. What I think an artist should ask themselves from time to time is what if this song were in a completely different language, would someone still get a sense of how the listener should be affected by it?
As far as a live performance, I’ve seen Hadrich play and it’s catchy and well done. I’ve even seen a drunk lady twerking to it, that was interesting and I’m not kidding. There’s definitely talent here and it shouldn’t be ignored, but in an area filled with this style of music, there won’t be $20 cover charges on this particular material. Their next gig will be at Canal Park Brewery on Sunday, October 19. The show will start at 7 p.m. and it will be a free show.