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Darling West Darling West
Album: While I Was Asleep
Label: Jansen
Tracks: 10

Sticking to the traditional principles of an album fitting the old two sides of vinyl across about forty minutes, Darling West commit to record the latest instalment of their success story. A year where the release of their second album and worldwide touring have combined with critical acclaim and commercial chart success, 2017 also saw them pick up a Norwegian Grammy. Which may be a surprise as opening cut 'After My Time' will have many feeling their origins are deeply rooted in Americana country soil.

Indeed the music on 'While I Was Asleep' was literally written across borders, from Brooklyn, USA to the Norwegian mountains and Oslo apartments, reflecting the American landscapes and the closer to home, cool pop sensibilities. The melodic pop charm and subtle harmonies of 'Loneliness' gets a typical Americana coating of slide guitar and banjo, while 'Rolling On' evolves in a moodier direction, the tumbling guitar remaining in the background as an atmospheric pedal steel accompanies a dour dustbowl lyric as "the train keeps rolling on" on its unceasing path.

The strong country drive that appears on 'Better Than Gold' is tempered against the shuffle on 'Always Around' - the latter a melancholic reminiscence that brings the first half to a close. Again the strength comes from the tender and picked guitar notes that spill behind a contemplative vocal. The newly acquired refreshing confidence and purpose comes to the fore on the title track and there's a chance to reflect on what might have been in "the love you gave me could have saved me" lushness that accompanies 'Traveller'. Despite the uplifting musical moments of 'Ballad Of An Outlaw' the low key album closer 'How I Wish' keeps things drifting around a wistful vein.

Someone said it, no prizes for guessing who, but their 'While I Was Asleep' sees Darling West keep on keeping on.

Mike Ainscoe