2008 In Review, Vol. 8 - Wynn Walent

Very late last year I was introduced to the music of Brooklyn singer/songwriter Wynn Walent. Though his latest release, the Upon Leaving EP, was technically released in ‘07, it wasn’t until early ‘08 that I really dove in headfirst. Walent has the rare gift to create music that sounds timeless. His songs are beautiful and ragged - truly the ancestors of the spirit of Big Pink. The EP’s 6 tracks combine the fine instrumental interplay of his band, The Folks, with the complex everyman narratives and delicately gruff vocals of Walent himself.

One of the songs, “A Question Of Water”, actually made such an immediate first impression on me that it ended up in among my favorite songs of last year, despite my only hearing it a week or 2 before that post. And “Olivia, The Dear” was a touching little folk song before seeing the cute homemade video that came out a few months later (see below). Be sure to check that out below. 2008 was fairly quiet for Wynn on the musical front - he spent much of the year working for the Obama campiagn - but hopefully he’ll be back in force in ’09. There are a bunch of new songs streaming at his myspace that show some promise of what might be in store.

MP3 :: A Question Of Water
MP3 :: Olivia, The Dear
(from Upon Leaving. Buy here)

MP3 :: Where Are You Now
MP3 :: Paramedic
(from Wynn Walent. Buy here)

Wynn passed along this detailed account of what he was up to this year - including his time spent volunteering for the Obama campaign and some demos he wrote and recorded as the year went along:

Hi folks. Hope all is well with each of you. I wrote a bit below about what my year was like...

January - In January I left NY. I'd worked at a non-profit in harlem for the last four years (http://www.friendsofthechildrenny.org/) -- they're amazing if you ever have some time to volunteer somewhere I then did some work for Barack Obama in the south carolina primary. we ended up at the staff party the night of the primary and Mr. Obama came and spoke to the about 200 of us. he quoted Bobby Kennedy and talked of ripples creating ripples. it was pretty beautiful.

my good friend bryan and i drove around long island once last summer after moving out of our apartment. among other things, we discussed the idea of bryan drawing a video to the song, olivia the dear. he finished it and posted it in jan of this year and you can see it below…

February - I spent february in LA with some good friends. i drank a good amount of red wine. i played a few shows. i did some demo recordings. one, recorded with Pres Maxson, can be found here....

MP3 :: The Well Is Always Dry

March - I went on tour with Cheyenne in march. Cheyenne is in many ways my favorite band. they are truly wonderful people. in addition to playing shows throughout the country, we spent a week together in norman, ok. they worked on a record there, and i drank tea, started writing a book, and played the piano in the student lounge, which was empty because it was spring break. I re-read Catcher in the Rye and The Old Man and the Sea. I wrote 'lily please' about a 7 year old girl i met who was a friend of the band. I also finished "eating the ocean" and began playing it on the tour.

MP3 :: Lily Please
MP3 :: Eating The Ocean

April/May - I left straight from the tour to take a job working for barack obama in Oregon. we drove from nashville to denver to portland to salem and i stayed there for about two months. i worked every day, for 16 hours or so, and then went to the same two bars to play pool or shuffleboard. i listened to beau jennings' (cheyenne) solo record "holy tulsa thunder" quite a lot. it's a great record and i highly recommend it.

June/July - For june and july i volunteered at an orphanage in the dominican republic (http://www.nph.org/). i taught a music program, played soccer and baseball a lot, helped build a baseball field, and ate all of my meals with a group of 16 teenage dominican boys. while there i finished this song below. i brought an old classical guitar that had been my aunt's to use with the kids. i often walked around the house and grounds playing the intro of the song below and then singing silly lyrics in spanish. To describe how beautiful it was there would take too many words for this posting.

MP3 :: The Bells

August-October - I worked for Barack Obama in Florida. so many amazing people, so devoted and willing to sacrifice-another really beautiful experience. i have friends that are skeptical about obama. most of them are people who are too upset by the many miserable things that our gov't has been involved with to believe that real change can come from within the existing system. i don't see it that way, though i do understand. i'm not under the impression that barack obama is perfect or can immediately eliminate the injustices that we are a part of, but i think his election was about the best thing that could have happened to the world. a gigantic step in the right direction. i think progress will be incremental, or it won't happen at all. i'm glad i was there.

there was no time to write or play music really, which was alright. but one night i went to a bar near my house and it was pretty nice outside and i was kind of secluded, so i got my guitar from the car and wrote this song below…it's called "victor and them boys"

MP3 :: Victor And The Boys

November - We won the election if you didn't hear, and it was one of the happier nights i can recall. after the election i stayed in florida for a bit to close up my office and hang out with some of the volunteers and other staffers. other than that i spent the month in richmond and ny my two quasi-homes. i read the return of the native by Thomas hardy-which I recommend, though not enthusiastically as I might recommend other books.

December - It's Dec. 10 and I write from my parent's house in richmond. i'm currently taking a break from reading the way of a pilgrim, the russian folk tale that franny is always talking about in franny and zooey if you've read that. (that's an example of one I enthusiastically recommend by the way) i'll spend dec. in both ny and richmond and am playing a show in ny on the 20th at parkside lounge (with casey shea and copper sails-great bands).

I've also started writing my book again, which incidentally has nothing to do with any of this.

In the coming year i may end up back in ny, or in dc, or in charlottesville va, or in central America, or most likely in all of those places from time to time. i'm figuring it out. i'm not sure what role music will play, but i have lots of songs that I hope to put together at some point. potentially with some good friends of mine in Norman, Oklahoma.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought you were going to end up in Denver in '09.

Very disappointing...