Stewart Forgey

Pacific Range were the consummate California cosmic travelers. In their brief tenure they caught an immaculate wind that carried their sound far and wide. The band has parted ways, but songwriter Stewart Forgey still rides that same wind on his solo debut. The Range captured the woodsmoke and salt that cures the best West Coast cosmic country, melding mercurial harmonies into a record that lives forever in the California canon. Forgey moves just past the peak of the ‘70s for Nature of the Universe. Save for the title track, on which the members of PR reunite for a last light into the layered harmonies, its a solo record in spirit. There’s a lonesome lilt, a raglan rumple that captures some of what Mapache have been working while feeling like a kindred spirit to label mate Eric Silverman.

Like Silverman, Forgey can sometimes tumble over the ‘70s/‘80s line into moments when cocaine cowboys roamed the paved ranges of L.A. — slicked with a neon glow and slippery synths. This crops up most prominently on the single “Starry Dream,” but burrows into “Cold Heart” as well. The rest of the album chases the sun down to the end of the bar, drowning its melancholy in warm strums, swells of strings, and Forgey’s honey-dipped delivery. The album follows a tradition of solo albums cut in the shadows of celebrated pasts, and like the troubadours that carved the path before him, Forgey succeeds in slipping his own way into the sun.

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