West King String Band, Achin
Written by Clayton Silcox
They have done it! The West King String Band has released a new album, Achin, which was dropped in August of last year. My goodness they have left us something good to chew. In what I would call a bluesy folk-grass, this trio cranks out spacious and lovely melodies track after track. I would compare listening to their songwriting for the first time to blindly diving into a pool of warm, electric spunshine on a cold day. The beautifully constructed mandolin melodies and the sometimes deep, bluesy electric guitar riffs seem to surround a room and somehow make it brighter. I’m really not sure how this is possible but I’m telling you it happened. In the midst of all of the chord complexity, there is an honest simplicity that accompanies their songs. This is the same sort of feeling I have only gotten from finishing a hearty breakfast at Grandma’s house on the Sundays of my youth. If “Big Mike’s Breakdown” is the French toast, then “Tracks” is the maple syrup and “Train Hopper” is a never-ending cup of coffee with just the right amount of sugar. If I had to pick, “Stranger” would be the post-meal, caffeine-driven drag of a nic-stick. Innocent-sounding song lyrics are abound with a somewhat antiquated feel, but the choruses are just as bright and sunny as the melodies are cheerful.
If you’re a rookie to the “newgrass” genre, then this album is for you. Seemingly void of the heavy strumming found in many string band performances, but also dripping wet with a warm southern twang, “Achin’” is a marvelous gem of an album. It will leave your ears and soul as happy as the storied canine in “Dog Song.” Give these guys a listen! It’s always very interesting to me how these newer string bands are able to stymie an old dog like bluegrass and teach it a thing or two. Seriously, this album just wants to lick your face for the sake of seeing how it tastes. I have seen many bluegrass-style bands, and I will most definitely say I would be excited to see this band in person. There is something to be said about the environment that a band like this could possibly exist in; I can smell the fresh wheat straw, I feel like I can taste the sweet burn of moonshine, and I can feel the comfort of warm sunshine on my shoulders as I listen to this. All in all it has a very Summer-like feel to it, almost so much that I feel like I can imagine where I’d see them. On a beach or in a place like West Virginia in mid to late Summer I feel like I’d catch them playing and making people smile.
I have to give this band serious props for creating something that sounds so unique, yet casting it into a genre where so many other acts are competing for originality. That in itself is very hard to do and they may absolutely keep this up! If you are interested in hearing this album, go to westkingstringband.bandcamp.com to check it out! Thank you for reading and see you next week!