Wisconsin born troubadour Willy Gantrim’s debut album, Alone and Adrift is a truly honest delta-blues record, loaded with the dusty sounds of the American South West. The album meanders through the thoughts of a day-dreaming rover – clearly reflective of Gantrim’s own travelling experiences. Although he hails from Wisconsin originally, the singer was raised among the honky-tonk and old-time religious music of Houston, Texas and elements of both of these– along with a cache of traditional and more modern folk sounds – can be found throughout the record. After leaving Texas, Gantrim bounced around the country and an array of jobs before settling in New York, where he established himself in bars and clubs in the Brooklyn roots scene.
Yet Gantrim actually recorded this impressive debut in Copenhagen after leaving the East Coast of the United States in early 2012. Detaching himself from America enabled him to amalgamate the variety of folk influences he had stumbled across on his life-journey, into a hotchpotch of songs alluding to the binary emotions of hope and despair.
The title track Alone and Adrift offers a slow waltz into the musings of Gantrim, who reflects on a conversation he dreamt he had with spiritual figures. The opening haze of Alone and Adrift somewhat sets the tone for the album, although he springs out of the muse into a Delta blues jam with Keep On Up, which is underpinned by an emphasis on rhythm and the bottleneck slide.
The album is a fairly sombre affair throughout. Despite an influx of different instruments which seek to reinforce the depth of songs such as Trouble in Mind and A Million Miles to Go, it is often the Dylan-esque, rusty timbre of Gantrim’s vocals that stands out on the record.
Nothing epitomises the vagrant, folk pensive of Gantrim’s persona more than the penultimate track on the album, Tender Lovin’ Hold. Despite its simplicity and length – at just over two minutes long, it captures quite beautifully the fragility of relationships and the magnitude of memory on later life.
Although rather swamped by an airy sense of mystery, Gantrim’s lyrics are full of sincerity. This is epitomised by two of the more mellow songs on the album Tomorrow is Only a Dream and The Rancor In Needfulness. The latter, the final song on the album, is a clear tale of the loss of love, and a fitting culmination to the record.
Despite being recorded in Europe, Alone and Adrift offers a rambling journey through America, and Americana folk music. Gantrim was aided by a Kickstarter fund to complete this album, and with a prospective tour across Denmark, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and finally a return to the United States in the pipeline, his public backers will certainly feel as though their investment was worthwhile.
Review by: Harry Shepherd
Album Stream (via Deezer)
Also just had to share this older session from 2011:
Released 28th October via Wind Some Lose Some Records
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