“Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding” Wesley Stace
UK-born Wesley Stace has released 20 albums since the late 80s. For much of that time he recorded as John Wesley Harding, a stage name taken from Bob Dylan’s 1967 album of the same name. Now also a successful novelist under his given name, he has released several albums as Wesley Stace as well. The above convoluted title is his attempt to continue to clarify his rock ‘n’ roll identity. This album varies from folk to gentle rock with a touch of Americana or alt-country. Stace is backed throughout by an accomplished band, the Jayhawks, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lots of catchy melodies and well-turned lyrical phrases with a 70s soft-rock vibe to most songs.
1. (4:01) I Don’t Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll — Mid-tempo rock with piano and electric guitar that’s easy on the ears. Smooth middle of the road (MOR) sound.
2. (3:20) You’re a Song — Gentle, Americana-flavored folk-rock. Strummed acoustic guitar, player piano, toe-tapping beat, and jangly guitar — with a bit of pedal steel. ***
3. (3:04) Better Tell No One Your Dreams — Upbeat, optimistic rock. Fuzzy guitars. Piano. Simple backbeat. ***
4. (3:39) How to Fall — Folky feeling. Prominent bass line. Brushes on drums. Lightly stepping tempo.
5. (2:35) For Me and You — Big Star crunchy guitars at start and at points throughout. Straight-ahead rock song with easy vocals. ***
6. (5:07) Hastings Pier — Meandering, somewhat experimental song structure. Tinkling piano keys. Wistful vocals. **
7. (2:26) Audience of One — Another folky tune with sweet piano and some pedal steel guitar.
8. (2:20) Don’t Turn Me Loose — Veering toward alt country-rock. Warm lead vocals with rich harmonies and crying pedal steel in the lead break. ***
9. (2:47) The Wilderness Years — Up-tempo and more driving than the rest. Piano and organ with guitar accents. Talking, storytelling vocals in verses. Electric guitar in lead break. **
10. (3:29) What You Want Belongs to You — Mellow, sweet, folky ballad.
11. (2:44) Remember Me — Lilting soft rock backed with harmonies. Big lead electric guitar in break.
12. (3:53) Let’s Evaporate — Up-tempo rock closer with plinking piano and ooh-ooh harmonies. Silky lead vocals. Chunky guitar in break — meandering guitar at end. **