The amount of chores I have to do around my house today is ridiculous but I’m a procrastinator and cleaning can wait. I am in the mood for some new music so I blindly reached into my treasure box of albums to review and grabbed ‘Love Letters From The Western Gate’ by Going to the Sun. When I got this album from the PR rep (who happens to be a great friend of mine), she told me that this was an album for me. I was instantly excited as I slid the CD into my stereo, hit play, and got comfy at my desk.
“Music For a Party” kicked the album off and I fell in love instantly. The perfect amount of chill for my Friday morning (it’s a three day weekend- I swear I’m not just skipping out on work) and my third cup of coffee, I instantly fell in love with the vibe this song gives me. Although chill, there’s something undeniably rocking about this track. I mean, it’s titled “Music For A Party” and that’s exactly what it is. It’s the kind of track you can put on when you are drinking in the kitchen with friends while waiting for a pizza to cook. Sure, we are only a track in but I already know why my PR friend thought this album would be perfect for me.
“Hopeful Song” switches gears fairly drastically and changes the mood from a party vibe to a more calming and self-reflective couple of minutes. There’s something a little country about this song but I wouldn’t call it a country track. It’s just got a little southern twang to it that is undeniable but the passion in David Young’s voice keeps it from going Willie Nelson and keeps it more in the Of Monsters and Men vein of things. Add the upbeat drumming from Zach Young and the perfect gang vocals off in the distance and you are left with just a straight up feel good song.
Speaking of feel good songs, “Broken, Still Beating” is another one that is self-assuring, upbeat, but full of passion. The beat in this one is nothing short of infectious and, for some reason, is giving me The Killers vibes but the vocals keep it from falling into any trap of being cliche. I could see the strobe lights in my mind as the song played through and it was almost a bummer as the album moved into “Western Gate” which slows things down to a level that I didn’t think would happen on this album. A soft whistle mixed with a beautiful guitar part kicks this beautiful song off before David’s calming voice takes over. “Western Gate” is definitely one of the more subdued tracks on this ten song album.
“Dark Before The Dawn” seems to take the more subdued vibe laid out in “Western Gate” and expand on it a bit. There’s a new sense of darkness that comes with this track. It’s a little haunting but still absolutely stunning. The self-assurance that seemed to be highlighted in the first couple of songs seems to be replaced with a place of pain and darkness and although there’s no denying the beauty in this song, this morning just wasn’t the morning for such a dark and heavy track for me. Unfortunately, “Remember Who You Are” fell into that category as well. As beautiful as this track is, it was just a bit heavy for my light-hearted Friday morning. There was something a litle more playful about this song musicially but the lyrics were hitting me in a painful way. “You are something great/ You are something beautiful”. It’s a mantra that I think we all need more of in our lives.
There’s a new sense of drama brought in from “Dustbowl”. This track seems to split the difference between the first couple of more upbeat tracks and the few slower, more subdued tracks. Moody, dark, yet driving, I know this is going to be a strange connection but something about this track reminds me of Corey Taylor’s voice in “Vermillion Pt. 2”. Yes, Corey Taylor as the frontman of legendary Iowa band Slipknot. Again, I know it’s odd but it’s a connection I couldn’t quite shake and, as soon as it popped into my head, I couldn’t unhear it. You’re welcome.
The darkness and moodiness instantly disappeared with “Rodeo” which is another dancey little number that instantly had me nodding my head to the infectious beat. There are many elements about this song that I love but the guitar solo that happens about two minutes in is absoutely my favorite. There’s something unexpected about it but also something so perfect. The versatility of this group is amazing and this song is a good example of that. Another good example of that would be the stark difference between “Rodeo” and the next song, “Closer Every Day”. Replacing the danciness with a sensitivity that really can’t be put into words, the way this group can change the mood at the drop of a dime is astonishing. Sure, it wasn’t quite what I wanted this morning when I was trying to muster up the energy to get stuff done around the house but that didn’t stop me from appreciating the pure genius and musicianship that it takes to pull something off like this.
“What Would I Say” closes things out for this ten song album. A song that seems to be about self-reflection, it was the perfect chance to reflect back on ‘Love etters From The Western Gate’. Much like this closing song, the album has so many different elements wrapped up in it. Moodiness, care-free attitudes, country undertones, poppy rhythms- this song, like the album, has a bunch of things in it that shouldn’t really work well together but somehow Going To The Sun makes all of the elements connect perfectly.
This album wasn’t what I thought it would be and I’m sure it would have hit me a bit differently if I was listening to it on a dark night all wrapped up in a blanket but the fact that it struck me even though it didn’t match my mood right now says everything. There’s something intriguing and genius about this group and this album that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m going to have to spend some more time with this group and see if I can figure it out. Even if I can’t figure it out, I’m excited for the journey.
My Favorite Track(s): “Music For a Party”; “What Would I Say”
For Fans Of: Country undertones; Moods; Reflection
Dance-ability: 3.4 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats laid on the back of the couch
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 5.3 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 3.97 out of 5
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Listen to ‘Love Letters From The Western Gate’ Here!
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