For those who have read anything on this website, you have probably guessed by now that, for me, music is all about connection… about how it makes me feel… about the places it takes me… about being something intrinsic to my psyche. It is a personal thing… and it is a personal thing for all of us. It is a great feeling, therefore, when I encounter a musician or band with whom I find an affinity… one whose music seems to get below my physical and mental surface and plug directly into me.
I had such an experience recently with Ambassador Hazy, a project by American multi-instrumentalist Sterling DeWeese, whose two albums to date seem to have really hit the spot. I came across him because the excellent UK label, Cardinal Fuzz, were putting out DeWeese’s second album under this moniker, ‘The Traveler’. At that point, however, only the first album, ’Glacial Erratics’ was available to listen to publicly… and so I started with this and was really taken by what I heard…
In common with many albums that I have come to love in an enduring way this one hit me straight away, but then continued to give me more with each listen. ‘Glacial Erratics’ has an easiness and looseness to it that I found endearing from the very beginning. In many ways it reminded me of a more lo-fi version of Ripley Walker’s latest outing in the Rose City Band… and in places DeWeese’s vocals sound quite similar…
However, before I get tied up in comparisons let’s concentrate on why I like this… it is music that immediately makes you feel comfortable… not because of its lack of challenge, but because, for me at least, it seems to go with the grain. It reminds me of calm, warm and – yes – hazy evenings… when you want to reflect on the day and just chill and enjoy the moment.
Some of these tracks have already become like old friends, the sort that immediately make me happy when I hear the first bar. ‘Easy Alibi’ just goes along with such an ease to it… I really dig it’s quirkiness and how it is almost wantonly lo-fi… something I’m not altogether a fan of… but here it just works. ’Moth To the Flame’ also moves along with a bluesy ease, with an almost hidden melody which cushions the track wonderfully… the same goes for ’Sleepyhead’, which just hits me in all the right places and makes me feel so good… well like the whole of this album really, something which meant that I couldn’t wait to hear the new one.
‘The Traveler’ is, in many ways, more of the same. It still has that wonderful easiness to it, and for me is lo-fi in all the right ways. It is the sort of music that I could imagine myself making if I had an enormous amount of talent to put something together… and maybe that is why I feel such affinity to it… because I sort of feels ’home made’ in all the right ways… through its passion, authenticity, endearment and easy but effective simplicity… it’s stripped down of everything but its emotions…
Having said that there are some differences between the two album… the latter feels a little more dark and intense, where it feels as if DeWeese has added a new layer of sound into the mix in many places, although not on such as ’All We Wanted’, which is as lovely and deep a song as you will hear all year… whereas ’Take The Sweet With The Sour’ just soars, and ‘Percolator’ underlines the different angles that this album offers compared with the previous one.
…and that is kinda my conclusion… that both these albums have their definite similarities but are sufficiently different to exist in their own right and be played at different times for different moods. ’Glacial Erratics’ is most definitely that hazy sunny album that reminds me of the stillness at the end of the day; while ’The Traveler’ has a bit more of a bustle to it… it is still a chilled record… but it is busier and perhaps for more active times than its predecessor.
Together, though, these albums are a great double act which will get played again and again…
‘Glacial Erratics’ can be found here, and was pressed privately but DeWeese, although I have heard rumours that a second pressing might be in the offing.
‘The Traveler’ is still available on vinyl and CDr direct from the artist in the US at time of writing here; it was a co-release with Cardinal Fuzz, who currently has some CDrs left here… there may be vinyl left in record shops/ distros.
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