Quick Before it Melts
There’s a quote from Sarah Harmer is the press release for Joey Wright‘s new album Hatch that’s a beautiful summation of what I was thinking while listening to the record: “Joey Wright doesn’t need a bio. You just hear about him. A rumour, a sound. Musical charisma enveloping a career of cinematic guitars, slides of blues and bluegrass. An inspired force of beauty and bravado, danger and charm.” Before hearing Hatch, Wright’s third album, I had never heard of him, but realized after doing a bit of digging that I had heard his work with Harmer, as well as Amy Millan, Oh Suzanna, and others. That’s where the instant familiarity of Hatch comes from. It’s sonic déjà vu, where the texture and mood of the record are all at once familiar, but the dulcet tones of Wright’s voice is that new element that makes the record fresh and new.
Wright’s not reinventing the wheel on Hatch, but what he does (singer-songwriter, acoustic folk/country/rock) he does with aplomb. Long a go-to back-up musician, Wright’s cashed in his favours well when assembling his support on this record: Evan Cranley and Pat McGee of Stars are his rhythm section, while their band mate (and Cranley’s life mate) Amy Millan, Sarah Harmer and Wright’s long-time musical collaborator Jenny Whiteley handle backing vocal chores. If you’re keeping score (or keeping track, or whatever) guitarist Christine Bougie (she of last week’s post) also figures prominently in the band. Hatch takes it’s sweet time to gestate and crack open, revealing glimpses of itself in small doses. “Sunrise”, the album’s third track features a lyric that encapsulates the whole album: “there’s something in the water/there’s something in the air” sings Wright, and as you listen your way through these 11 songs, you get the sense that many small moments have come together to make magic. Wright’s aforementioned voice bears a striking resemblance to Elliott Smith’s, but where Smith’s came with a heavy dollop of sadness and misery, Wright’s voice sparkles with positivity and happiness. It permeates the record, seeping into the dreamy wooziness of a song like “Hives” like the buzz of a good beer.