I’ve been a fan of quite a bit of David West’s output, from Rat Columns to his time with Total Control, Lace Curtain, and Rank/Xerox. He’s a mercurial songwriter to be sure, and that quality is never more apparent than on his solo releases. For his fourth record under his own name he moves away just a touch from some of the slick pop of it’s predecessor, Cherry On Willow, pulling back the curtains for a brighter and more brittle follow-up. This time he dives into the frayed ends of indie with all his might. The opener, and first single, “Poet Of My Dreams’ is juiced on overdriven guitars and a chorus about hookups and hangups. West still pours out his passions in a close-mic saunter, but this time there less of a pleather gloss and more of a lived-in, ‘90s naturalism. The synths haven’t been removed from the picture, but they’re moving towards the back row and being replaced by the ozone crunch of electric guitars, or the tender turn of acoustics, with a humble swell of strings that shade his openly bittersweet odes.
West has assembled a pretty impressive team on Jolly In The Bush, including Louis Hooper from Rat Columns, Bob Jones from Eaters, Mikey Young from Total Control/Green Child/Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and Richard Ingham from Taco Leg/Mink Mussel Creek. The record comes off as a whispered invitation to upset expectations, a love-letter to an indie vision that’s less put together and more from-the-hip. The electronic heartbeat rears its head as the record opens into the second half, and admittedly, I’d love to have seen a record that stayed with the crunch n’ croon he introduced on the opener, “6AM Style,” and “Not That Lonely Yet,” but like all solo West Records, this one refuses to be pinned to the floor. West’s songwriting deftly evades restraint, favoring dark corners and making eyes at the listener with soft-focus winks and pursed lips. This one has a bit of something for everyone to love, shambolic and a bit uneven to say the least, but pure West to the very last moments. I’ll always be on board for that.
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