There’s something so raw and open about picking up an acoustic guitar and just singing, and when you hear someone do it in a studio, it feels like someone slitting their wrists and waiting for the wound to heal so you can taste its scars. That is one way of comparing the music of White Ash Falls and his album, By The River Bend (Light Organ).
White Ash Falls is the musical mask of Andy Bishop, a Vancouver, BC musician who has done his share of punk over the years, but decided that his love of folk and calm needed to be tended to, and eventually this lead to the creation of White Ash Falls. The album is beautiful and gorgeous like some of those intimate albums you enjoyed hearing from your parents, the stuff you didn’t quite understand but it soothed you. You may hear hints of Wilco and the Black Crowes in “I Can’t Get Tomorrow”, while “Don’t Let It Go Down” sounds like Michael Penn if he decided to hang out in Nashville, with Justin Timberlake in a cowboy hat at the bar, telling you “hey, I’m just sitting here after a long day of schmoozing, and I’m here for a quick drink before the limo takes me back home. Have a listen.” There are songs of love, heartbreak, fear, sorrow, and happiness on this, and it gets to a point where, while you may know and/or understand the influences, the idea of this being your parents or grandparents music slowly fades when you immersed yourself in it to where it becomes your music. These songs could easily be covered by some of today’s country artists, while also being interpreted by today’s pop stars. In fact, White Ash Falls could be a major star if major labels understood quality over quantity, but… their loss, our gain.
Short version: White Ash Falls piles folk, country, and blues in the back of a truck, takes it to a family BBQ, brings in friends, allows everything to slow cook, and the end result is an album that becomes an evening gathering that lasts until the sun comes up.