‘Way Gone’ is the new EP from Alabama based singer-songwriter-guitarist Will Stewart and it’s a perfect example of good things coming in small packages. This release may only be 6 songs and 23 minutes long but there is some pretty good music crammed in here. The mini-album gets off to fine start with ‘Southern Raphael’ where some tight rhythms and jangly guitars build up to an end of track crescendo while the clever use of synths subtly adds to this tale of dive bar entanglement.
The pace and feel of the rest of the album is more country rock in nature, although trying to label it this way does this mini-album something of a disservice as Stewart manages to conjure up some really well-crafted sonic landscapes throughout this EP. The remainder of ‘Way Gone’ is no less absorbing with ‘River Child’ and ‘Stowaway’ being the best examples of Stewart’s ability to infuse a laid back country-folk song with some unanticipated textures and atmospheres. ‘All Over Again’ is a good old fashioned hard-driving indie-rock effort and for those who like comparisons, there are certainly more than a few tinges of an REM influence poking through while ‘Night God’ creates a soft dreamy soundscape for what is something of an underlying dark tale.
Stewart’s compositional diversity is understandable – he’s a busy guy. In addition to his solo work, he collaborates with Janet Simpson (Delicate Cutters, Teen Getaway) as Timber, and performs in her solo band (and she in his). He also contributed to Sarah Lee Langford’s excellent 2019 album, Two-Hearted Rounder, plays guitar with Terry Ohms, and has a new band (with a forthcoming album) called The Blips.
‘Way Gone’ is something of a little gem, combining as it does intricate layers of sound, allied to Stewart’s relaxing low-key vocals. His voice doesn’t have a huge range but that doesn’t matter as the sum of the parts on this EP are definitely greater than the individual elements and it’s a fine, if short, musical effort.