I tend to listen to new music in my car on my commute to work, I can settle down without interruption and simply take in the music that is on offer, I lean towards the music that unfolds and has a story because it works so well with my daily journey.
Upon reading that Justin Wells built the album around the human journey of womb to grave, it got me a little excited but don’t be put off by the possibility of a concept album because it doesn’t follow any biographic pattern than I could find, what it does do though, is treat the listener to a dozen (ok, ten, the opening and closing tracks act as soundbite bookends) fine country-tinged songs that hold up to repeat listening.
Originally released in August 2020, The United State is a lesson in strong song writing and necessary musicianship where the frills and sparkles are set aside to allow room for the music.
And rightly so.
The album is pitched just right, with the ‘yee-haw’ of country music but with a bit more than songs about tractors and kissing a pretty Southern Belle beneath the moon.
With songs like ‘No Time For A Broken Heart’ and ‘It’ll All Work Out’ it feels like an elderly man passing on words of wisdom to the follow generation, you can almost picture the rocking chair on the front porch, the mug of beer at the side with young boys sitting, crossed-legged listening intently.
There are hints of Springsteen throughout the album, ‘Walls Fall Down’ has The Boss’s trademark all over it, that’s not to say it’s a rip off but you can hear the gravelly energy surge through it. It sits as the most radio-friendly track on the album and sits as a refresher, a reminder that although the album is packed full of memorable songs, this one sits above the others and shows Wells can write an old-fashioned hit song.
If you’re a fan of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty or anybody else that delivers good country music with just a little more spice in the mix, Justin Wells could easily find himself on your Christmas list, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t wait that long, go and find it now.