Seattle, Seattle. Your people have so much enthusiasm when it comes to their city! But who can blame them? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are polishing four Grammys, Russell Wilson’s got some fresh Super Bowl bling to take care of and it has to be said that the little sea town in the Puget Sound has got some kinda magic going for it this year. Seattle-based rock band, Whiskey N’ Rye are yet another success story bursting to be told. They’re eponymous debut album is a soulful effort that is a pleasure to listen to and, like any proud product of the northwest, never forgets its roots.
As an album, Whiskey N’ Rye stares the world down from the perspective of an adventurer. On the album’s first track, “Bootlegger”, the band explores a deep yearning to get out and affect the world with the imperative lyrics, “gotta run before we run out of time”. There is an innate tension that resides with the song as well. The singer describes his new found freedom on the 6am train out of town with the pained paradoxical expression, “Never did it hurt so bad/ Never have I felt so free”.
That special kind of tension seems to permeate the entire album. It allows Whiskey N’ Rye to explore what it feels like to chase one’s life experiences at full ramming speed. “Make Love” for example, is a song about the hunt for the perfect woman. In the world of Whiskey N’ Rye, that woman just happens to be “a little crazy” and sends seductive mixed signals as a matter of course. “Rebel Man pt. 2” tells story about the inspiration and motivation in the face of a life that “pulls you apart into a million pieces that never fit quite back”. It’s a rough reality that anyone willing to actively pursue his or her dreams has to face at some point. Listening closely to the tail end of the track reveals some the band’s thought-provoking questions on what can happen when that level of restlessness is present at a societal scale as well. There’s definitely a lot of food for thought here.
The musicality of the album is definitely another one of its strong suits. From the stalwart violin counterbalancing a fluttering piano on “Rebel Man, Pt. 1” to the “Seattle Drinking Song” with its humorously aching fiddle, the instrumentation of “Whiskey N’ Rye is a real mood setter. The majority of the album holds closer to more of a roots rock feel, with head-banging drums, swirling electric bass and guitar riffs. It’s the kind of music that would set either a big backyard party or a big outdoor festival on fire, sprinkled with just the right tracks (hear “Until The End”), to make you want to put your lighters in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care. The album has a vibrant, energy that is great to listen to. Rock on guys! You can officially count me as a passenger on the 6 a.m. Whiskey N’ Rye train.