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Shawn Hess (from the album Wild Onion available as a self-release) (by Douglas Dupont)
Based in the arguably tough and windy town of Laramie, Wyoming, comes troubadour (and hopefully the next big thing!) in Alternative Country music, Shawn Hess. Wild Onion has an undeniable Classic Country vibe that has this culture-critic wondering where Shawn parked the time machine. This being Hess’ third record, it’s apparent that he’s the real deal.
Tender opener and early high-point “‘Til It Ain’t” details a hard-to-quit romance. The undercurrent of humanity and relatability of the entirety of Wild Onion is part of what makes the record work so well. One can really see themselves as the narrator of these tunes. What follows is “Yesterday’s Coffee”, a straight-up beautiful Country love song. A creative pen is witnessed with ‘wakin’ up is easier these days, but gettin’ out of bed with you here is not’. Third track “Harvest Me” serves as an extended-metaphor wherein Shawn Hess is a handful of seeds, attended to and cared for by the farmer and nourisher of the relationship. There is a lovely instrumental portion in the back-half of this one. “You’re Not the One” is an admirably optimistic and up-beat song about closure, accepting that your ex has moved on, and you probably should to.
Halfway point “When You Call” is another number about the messy conclusion of a romance; of lovers who can't quite seem to rip-the-band aid all the way off on-account of lingering feelings: “nothing that ever comes of this is any good at all, so why do I still answer when you call?”
“Changing Heart” solidifies the fact that Wild Onion is chock-full of some of the most unique and interesting recent-entry love songs in the Country canon. ‘Your changing heart doesn’t mean that your heart’s gone bad, and your changing heart doesn't have to leave another heart so sad’. “A Tear for You” seems to be the only song here without the outright Country element of steel guitar, furthering the resonance of Hess’ lyrics. “Walls” could have only been written by a Wyoming man, someone who understands and appreciates the solace found in open spaces. A different kind of love song, an homage to the west. Having been born in Wyoming, I pang to return upon hearing this number.
Penultimate song “Time, Only Time” is another high-point on the record. It’s true - time heals all wounds and brings the dark to light. The guitar work on this song is incredibly mean. Candid closer “Roadhouse Blues (the other one)” finds Hess describing a bohemian bout of isolating depression. It ties-a-bow on this remarkably human album that ought to have a little something for everyone. In summation, a superbly written and often infectious album that country fans of all stripes, creeds, and subgenres should listen to. (by Douglas Dupont)
Listen and buy the music of Shawn Hess from AMAZON
For more info, check out the Shawn Hess website
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