Your crusty chronicler is an individual who generally does his own thing. Still, when Examiner asked for support for their new “List” format, it was nigh impossible not to be open-minded about it. So, with that spirit of unity and teamwork in mind, your rockin’ reviewer presents this series—“Track by Track” in which we review certain select CDs literally “track by track”.
In this edition we (ahem) examine Western Avenue’s debut disc Western Avenue. For those not yet in the know, Western Avenue is a Canadian country trio based in Ontario. The group consists of: Nikki English (vocals), Keith Robertson (bass, guitar and vocals) and Matt Williams (guitar and vocals). They are occasionally assisted by other artists including Adam Newcomb (bass, percussion, piano, organ, strings and sequencing) and Matt Newcomb (drums).
The tuneful trio already has a signature sound known by some as “hot country”. In fact, they are oft’times reminiscent of Lady Antebellum.
(View the photos to learn more about the music.)
“This I Promise You”
The album lead-in is a song titled “This I Promise You”. It is the first of two tunes on the album composed solely by Robertson and also their second single. While the contemporary country cut works well enough as an introduction to the band it barely foreshadows their musical capabilities.
“Wherever You Are”
“Wherever You Are” follows here. Written by English and Dave Woods it is but the first of their collaborative cuts. It’s a good mid-tempo tune about a guy and a gal in love. While the story may indeed be nothing new, the group owns it by giving it a pure, catchy melody.
“Highway Headin’ Out of Town”
The next number on the CD is named “Highway Headin’ Out of Town”. This is the result of a three-way team-up between Robertson, English and Woods. This catchy cut was chosen as their first single and released last year. It has already become a fan favorite and received significant airplay.
“Without Saying Bye”
The next number is “Without Saying Bye”. This is the only tune on the release penned by Williams. It’s a bit of an emotional, sad song involving the untimely death of a loved one. It certainly manages to tug at the heartstrings and was, no doubt, intended to do just that.
“Heaven Bound” might immediately have some casual observers assuming the group is religious. Once you actually listen to the song, however, it is obvious that the story focuses on but one man and how he deals with the many less than perfect moments in his life. This was also written by Robertson who may already know that if you play country you pretty much have to have one song that references God and hard times and this fills the bill.
“What My Heart Had In Mind”
The sixth selection is a song titled “What My Heart Had In Mind”. This is another co-composition by English and Woods. It is an early favorite of both fans and critics. Every band needs at least one love song or ballad and this covers that quite nicely. It’s almost perfectly made for radio and yet has not as of yet been released as a single.
“Wherever You Are (Acoustic)”
The closing cut is “Wherever You Are (Acoustic)”. When major labels tack on an acoustic version of a song already on the album it annoys your crusty chronicler. Still, considering this is an indie act the decision is forgivable. Besides, it is admittedly interesting at times to see or rather hear how a song was (probably) first played and recorded before the powers-that-be put in their two cents.
All in all, Western Avenue’s debut disc Western Avenue is generally speaking a (short) playlist of songs are well-written and well produced. The songs sound sincere and the band offers up an album that contains a distinct and memorable sound with their own brand of melody-driven pop-country. One can hear crossover potential on almost every track. If this is a true indication of their potential then Western Avenue may someday soon be playing in your town . . . “Wherever You Are”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.