Just about a year ago I had the opportunity to review Tyrone Wells' album, Remain. Tough to believe it's been twelve months, but now he's releasing an acoustic album called Metal & Wood that demonstrates how he continues to mature and develop as an artist.
Wells has once again brought compelling, socially-conscious lyrics in sync with rhythms and melodies that provide additional layers. Add to that his soulful voice and gift for putting his emotion into a performance and a pattern begins to surface between Remain and Metal & Wood. I've always found that when you strip an artist's music down to its bare, acoustic essentials, the artist's true talents shine through. Without a doubt, Wells is the real thing.
This album opens strong and doesn't let up. Yet when I started listening to the title song, Wells had me from his opening strum. Using traditional folk-guitar styles and merging them with a rock-and-pop edge, the song calls to listeners to make the world a better place for our children as we won't be here forever. "We took the music from the schools / And left the darkest gaping hole / Where will our children be / If they don't learn to sing / Millions of voices fallen silent til they're gone."
"Metal and Wood" really hits home for me as a parent of two young kids. As a product of the Colorado public school system, much of who I am derives from the art and music programs in my schools and the wonderful teachers who knew those programs were building more complete kids. I wonder where we'll be when the arts are totally gone. I'm not sure I want to find out as without music the world would be a very dreary place. Bravo to Wells for bringing up this issue, one that's quite close to my heart.
Another song that stands out on the album is a duet with Jason Reeves called "Give Me One Reason," which has some beautiful harmonies from the very beginning. It's about two people in a troubled relationship, like two stars orbiting each other while waiting for an opportunity to escape their gravity. "You're like a shadow that I cannot hold on to / I'm not a prison / I cannot tie you down," he sings in hope that she'll give him one reason to stay. And "Use Somebody," which I've heard on local radio stations from the Kings of Leon, gets a nice acoustic makeover here. This is a simpler, slower version that really lets the melodies, lyrics, and guitar come out loud and clear, making for a great cover.
The whole album really cruises along to a mix of wistful, romantic tunes, like "Running Around in My Dreams" and the bluesy beats and happy lyrics of "And the Birds Sing." We could all use a bit more sunshine as Wells sings, "It warms your skin and the soul within as the birds sing." Really that's what hits me the most. Where Remain focused on a bit darker subject matter, Metal & Wood focuses more on the happy side of the equation. In a time when the world faces its own issues, it's great to have a positive message now and then. Consider me a fan.
So if you're looking for some Tyrone Wells that's a bit different than Remain, be sure to check out Metal & Wood, which will be released March 2.