ALBUM REVIEW: Gone West – ‘Canyons’

LifeInASong_UK

Gone West are one of country music’s brightest emerging talents, and their first full-length album ‘Canyons’ is out now. Made up of Grammy-award winner Colbie Caillat, Caillat’s songwriting collaborator Jason Reeves, Nelly Joy (previously of the JaneDear girls), and Hawaiian Music Award winner Justin Young, the four-piece have been building momentum over the last few months with their stunning single, ‘What Could’ve Been’, which is rising in country radio’s Top 40.

‘Canyons’ is a thoroughly compelling collection, filled with heart-warming lyricism and magical harmonies. As far as introductory projects go, this is pretty much all you could ask for. Backed by Triple Tigers, there’s so much potential for these guys; they’ve got it all, and they’re surely on the cusp of a big break right now. The production throughout ‘Canyons’ feels rustic, authentic, and allows their individual and combined talents to shine through, both musically and vocally.

There’s a lovely mix of mainstream-orientated, uplifting material with some moments of great depth and substance. The self-titled ‘Gone West’ kicks off the album, a lovely, rootsy track that sums up everything these guys are about. It’s a wonderful blend of traditional country influences with glistening vocals and a truly infectious rhythm. Somewhat of an anthem for the band, it’s such an optimistic-feeling start to a rollercoaster of an album.

‘Slow Down’ follows, which showcases Gone West at their absolute dreamy best. One of those melodies that just sweeps you away, the production on this track by Jamie Kenney is sublime. Vince Gill also makes a cameo on guitar, too, which is never a bad addition! It simply has to be given a chance at country radio after ‘What Could’ve Been’, which follows up ‘Slow Down’ on the album track list. Probably the best three songs on a debut album you’ll ever hear.

‘Knew You’ is a cleverly-written, bouncy track with a cool R&B/island vibe that adds something different to the album. “I was sad when it hit the fan, but looking back I understand that I didn’t lose you, ‘cos I never knew you”. It’s an interesting combination of a rather regretful, frustrated perspective alongside a bright, jolly melody that brings a ‘f*** you’ attitude to the table. There’s such intricacy to the instrumentation here with the subtle horns and pedal steel that just brings the song to life, and that’s a skill that you’ll notice throughout the album as a whole.

‘I’m Never Getting Over You’ is one of the most powerful segments on the album, a gorgeous, heart-wrenching piano-based ballad with the interchanging vocals of Caillat and Young. It paints the picture of someone willing to walk away and move on, whilst the other can’t let go; a different concept, and one which they pull of to perfection. Two top class vocalists conveying the struggle so beautifully.

On ‘Gamblin’ Town’, the foursome outline the difficulties of trying to ‘make it’ in Nashville in such a competitive market, delivered with an open-book mentality and great honesty. Jason Reeves takes the lead on this one. “This is a gamblin’ town, don’t you kid yourself, in a one in a million crowd, the stakes are high as hell, you know you gotta take the wheel, spin it round, go home or double down”. Wise words spoken by four seasoned musicians who’ve fought to be where they are in the Nashville chain. One of the most intriguing and personal tracks on ‘Canyons’.

Perhaps the best offering of the lot, however, is ‘This Time’, which has been a favourite of ours at YLIAS HQ since the release of their ‘Tides’ EP back in 2019. The topic of living life to the max because you can’t take anything with you when you go is something that always resonates, and this is one of the best examples you will find of that message. “Tomorrow’s just a cape we hope will fly, yesterday’s Superman’s kryptonite” – the album’s finest line.

There’s a freshness and a spark to ‘Canyons’ that is just so refreshing to hear. If there’s any justice in the world, these guys will be a huge deal within the next couple of years. One of the best debut projects we’ve come across, and potentially the beginning of a very exciting journey for this exceptionally talented foursome.

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

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