Music These Days “Big Wide States”

IviBob Records, 2024

Tucson, Arizona band revisits familiar territory on their second album.

artwork for Music These Days album "Big Wide States"Anyone who thinks Music These Days is a Jackson Browne tribute band, raise your hand. Even as they mainly count the time in quarter notes except for the slow waltz of ‘Avenue Lady,’ their brand of music is decidedly not West Coast folk rock. Their songs present portraits of life on the backroads of America, exploring themes of love and loss amid the allure of the open landscapes surrounding their base. Benjamin Wilkinson’s dry baritone vocals invites listeners to imagine the loneliness and hard truths of the nearby Sonoran Desert with its towering saguaro cacti positioned like so many past lovers.

“Sharing this new music is an honor and our way of helping the world turn in a more positive rotation,” says songwriter and singer Wilkinson. “Each song is a sonic painting, and we can’t wait for listeners to experience the truth we’ve poured into this record.” Listeners need only wait until May 24th for these truths to become evident when ‘Big Wide States,’ the band’s second album is released on both digital and limited-edition vinyl on Bandcamp and accessible via the ubiquitous streaming platforms.

The first track sets the tone and serves as a forecast of what’s to come. In ‘Redwood Home’ the guy’s world revolves around his girl who, alas, no longer reciprocates. “Always tried to forget, so much lost in regret.” ‘Avenue Lady’ flies in from Tucson to stay with a fellow in Boston who watches her dejectedly while she’s at the stove “cooking her noodles away.” ‘One Eye Cry’ concerns a guy hearing how his girl is quite confused, “telling me you’re wandering away while my inside voice is begging you to stay.” Even in ‘Happily’ the guy isn’t really, as his idea of happy is living apart from the gal. “Just like a falcon you flew through me and nearly took my sanity.” Makes you wonder how much anguish it would take for him to react unhappily.

Although the songs may delve into the cheesy part of love, some stay with you, for example ‘Gold-Plated Tears,’ which begins with a melody that sounds like a Willie Nelson song and shuffles along accompanied by Jameson Clay Koweek’s predominant pedal steel, a suitable fit for another tale of love gone wrong. “I cried oceans for losers, the broke up too-sooners,” laments Wilkinson who then swipes left on his Tinder app for song ideas, landing on ‘Picks,’ which features a clever comparison of songs he wrote for a woman to a pocketful of guitar picks.

Once again Wilkinson reached out to longtime collaborator Floyd Kellogg to co-produce ‘Big Wide States’ at his studio on Nantucket Island. He stated, “Working with Floyd is a dream come true. He inherently understands our creative angle and provides unwavering support.” This record may not be a game-changer for Music These Days but it does show some growth from their first album. The developing partnership between band and producer helps as the songs sound more fully realized. The assertion expressed in the title of the closing track ‘Old Enough to Know You Never Know’ is worth heeding. They should continue to work at their craft and see where it takes them.

 

6/10
6/10

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