Darryl Holter has a lot of years under his belt and by his own admission has never made a living through his music. That may change as his second release, West Bank Gone, is one of the better and creative independent releases of the year.
He is a singer/songwriter now based in Los Angeles but he reaches back to his Minnesota history to create one of the more innovative albums in quite a while. The album’s title refers to the fabled West Bank folk and roots movement which took place in and around Minneapolis during the 1960’s. Bob Dylan emerged from this scene and it is where Bonnie Raitt created her first album. In addition there is a cast of characters which have faded into the musical mists of time.
Holter has used these early memories to create a series of songs which present the history of this time period. The lyrics are universally excellent and they bring this lost period of music history to life. He also sets them against some catchy and melodic music. He finishes the album by recording four cover songs which fit the overall theme well.
His music is basically folk lyrics fused with a light country sound. His voice, however, can best be described as sixties folk which fits the intent of this album. It is a bit gruff at times but gets the job done and is a good vehicle for presenting his stories.
The title song is a keeper and on it he introduces the listener to a cast of long gone characters including Ross the harmonica kid, poet John B. Working, Dave Snaker Ray, Willie Murphy, and street artist Vicki who used to paint portraits. The music is more edgy than one would imagine as the electric guitar work is excellent. “The Mixers” is a ballad that takes one to a popular bar of the day. “5 am” is a tune about an encounter in an all night coffee shop.
He chose his non-original material well. “Back Into Your World” by Jay Farrar, “Friends and Lovers” by Spider John Koerner & Willie Murphy, “One Hundred Years From Now” by Gram Parsons, and Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country” all are well done and enhance his own material.
Plus, he has gathered some crack musicians to support him. Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench, pedal and lap steel player Greg Leisz, bassist Billy Mohler, electric guitarist Timothy Young, and drummer Nate Wood support his vocals and acoustic guitar skills.
West Bank Gone is a nice and nostalgic trip down memory lane whether you are from the area or era. It is an album worth exploring.