Review: Tony Bengtsson – West Elizabeth | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Musically, I would like to define myself as open-minded and as the online editor of NARC Magazine, I enjoy being exposed to music I usually wouldn’t encounter in the cultural echo-chamber that is my life. When I was asked to review a full album of country/Americana in the form of Tony Bengtsson’s new album West Elizabeth (released 1st November), I was a little apprehensive. What would I reference it to? What if the article reeks of cliches? And various other doubts rattled through my mind. But then I thought, why don’t I just enjoy it as I would any other album, as I poured myself a coffee, thoughtfully exhaled and hit play on Spotify.

The strong riff and back of the throat below Strange Trade Of The Light kicks the album off in foot-tapping style, before the shoulders begin to sway with the lap-steel loveliness of What I Wouldn’t Give. It’s apparent from the start that this is a well-recorded and produced album. The warmth of the tones along with the clarity and fullness of the vocal and instrument is super-pleasing to the ears and gives me a feeling of nostalgia for a life I have only ever experienced on my once favourite TV show, Nashville.

Songs like This Time and These wars remind of Silvertone had Chris Rea joined them instead of Chris Isaak and I’ve Got A Friend gives a bit of light relief with a Summery commercial gloss to it that you could quite easily see being playlisted on Keep It Country TV. I also really enjoyed the brushed train chugs of the drums paired with Tony’s deeper vocal on Through Your Eyes, a song that should be played in the background of roadside bars and diners everywhere.

Some of the stand out tracks for me occur later on in the album the jazz-lounge folky stylings of If You Told Me, with Tony’s smokey, tender vocal nestling nicely on the sharp guitar and organ noodling, and the softly cinematic album-ender of Questions. Ambience creation is something this album does really well and I can almost feel the fading glow of the sunset as I sit with my love on the bonnet of my pickup truck, whilst overlooking the ranch. Sorry.

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