Corbin Dooley “Western Trauma”

Bikiniwax Records, 2022

Darkness ahead – proceed with caution.

artwork for Corbin Dooley album "Western Trauma"For Corbin Dooley, as a child growing up in the rural south, emotion could be seen as a sign of weakness. As a result, when told to be “tough” as a kid, alternative singer-songwriter and music producer Dooley learned to internalise extreme emotions. When his first girlfriend died by suicide, his battle against trauma started. Years later, his close aunt died by suicide, and then in late 2016, after fighting years of depression, his mother took her life. All three losses, particularly the loss of his mother, left Dooley feeling hopeless and distraught.

Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Dooley spent decades living a bi-coastal life on the business side of music, working with popular alternative, pop & dance artists. However, a musician himself, he recently found his calling as an artist. The trauma and ongoing therapy inspired a passion for sharing his survival tactics with others, hoping to help them leave everyday darkness and heal. So, keeping a journal became a daily ritual to aid his healing process. This soon evolved into songwriting as his life experiences and the post-traumatic growth he strove to find led to the exploration of his deepest emotions and inspired him to explore his roots through a musical lens.

“Western Trauma is an insight into my thoughts and feelings from my journal. I have felt alone in the past, and I want others to never feel alone in their trauma. My hope is that this record can help people in their own journey.”

Not shying away from the inner darkness that has inspired his writing, many songs on this, his sophomore album, not to mention the cover photo of his stunningly stylish mother, reflect Dooley’s alternative approach and exorcise his extreme emotions. Often delivered with a grunge narrative style enhanced by dramatic instrumentation and melodious backing vocals, complex feelings and subjects are tackled head-on. Titles alone, such as ‘Suicide Survivors Club‘, ‘Pain‘ and ‘Survival Tactics‘ reveal the innermost torment Dooley manages through the catharsis of his songwriting. Leaving behind his own everyday darkness in songs such as ‘See The Light‘ with its bright and beautiful piano intro, Dooley portrays a thrilling transition from staring “into the depths…lending a pale gleam to my dead soul” to the sensational “with you by my side I see the light, even in the dark depths” as his vocal effortlessly transitions from demonic to angelic between verse and chorus.

Whilst there are moments of magic and beauty, this album doesn’t rise from the depths of despair very often. So, although it may be relatable to some who have been severely traumatised in the way Dooley has, it may not be for the faint-hearted.

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