Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist June West calls both Missoula and Tucson home. She grew up in the Garden City, helped start the country-rock band the Best Westerns, and played with Death Moth, a country-folk outfit.
West calls her music “soul for the soul,” and cites influences like Natalie Prass, Angel Olsen, Ricki Lee Jones, and Joni Mitchell. But I also hear the silky tones of Sade, an artist with the same hypnotic sensibility.
Her collaborators are Tucsonans: Connor “Catfish” Gallagher, lead guitar and pedal steel; Grant Beyschau, bass and saxophone; Jarvis Taveniere, bass and percussion; Adan Martinez-Kee, drums; and Julian Neel, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, and organ. West plays rhythm guitar, Wurlitzer, piano, and percussion; Lori LeChien sings back-up vocals.
West’s opulent, alluring melodies derive from a luscious stew of soul, country, and folk nuances, fused with pop. The 10 tracks meld all of these genres and provide an exotic feel that complements her smooth, expressive voice.
The tropical, tranquil bent to “Island of Women” counters its not-so-subtle message. It’s an upside-down take, if you will, on the Sirens myth. West bemoans the reality that men take advantage of women.
The bluesy “No Words to Say” has an inventive chord progression, and West adds a Ricki Lee Jones lilt to her voice in the slow country-blues number, “What I Am.”
In the slow-rockin’ “The Comedown,” with its ’60s R&B feel and an infectious hook, West sings, “I’m puttin’ your letters back on the shelf.” There’s a reverb-y sax interlude, too. Cool!
And on “Game to Claim,” West utters in glossy velvet tones, “You’ve got me driftin’ in tangles of your kisses.” Good line!
West funded this self-titled first effort through a Kickstarter campaign, and there’s a lot more here to wrap your ears around. I’d do it.
– Mariss McTucker