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Western Centuries

Weight of the World – 2016 (Free Dirt)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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There's a sense of gravitas that weighs heavy with a name like Western Centuries and an album with an overbearing title like "Weight of the World." Yet for all the heavy handed intent those references imply, this is a surprisingly unaffected effort, where classic influences like honky tonk and barroom bravado weigh on the proceedings, and simple celebration becomes the overriding concern. The title track is the most obvious concession to modern convention, but the rowdy and raucous attitude that's found on the songs that follow suggest something akin to what it would be like finding Merle Haggard at the helm of the Texas Playboys.

Cahalen Morris, the major instigator of these proceedings, has a well-established reputation gained from working with Eli West, but the acoustic melodies the duo produced is a world away from these decidedly up-temp tunes. Producer Bill Reynolds of Band of Horses guides the proceedings with a knowing ear, taking pains not to deter the band from exacting their sound and sway. Songs like "Double Or Nothing" and "Knocking 'Em Down" reflect an approach that makes little concession to contemporary designs, allowing instead the tempos to do the talking. This is the sort of thing intended to get folks dancing, and even with a cursory listen, there's every reason to believe that it will succeed.

Granted, a more descriptive handle might have better conveyed Western Centuries' designs, and thus made the marketing a little bit easier. After all, when an outfit is unknown, a descriptive name is all the more essential. Nevertheless, this is a band that banks on a certain tack and tradition, making "Weight of the World" far less cumbersome than the title of this initial outing implies.