Garrett Wieland – What Keeps the Heart Afloat
Coming from Texas, singer-songwriter Garrett Wieland’s collection (released June 11th) are finely crafted songs developed over a long period of time. Garrett has a strong voice but not yet as distinctive in the manner of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, or John Prine. He does have the ability to grow colorful melodies in your ears. His tunes (“Resolutions”) are performed with sincerity & each is graced with superb arrangements. Some need listening to in order to fully “see” what they’re about. I guess it’s like looking at a painting in a museum. They aren’t all instantly catchy like a pop song. Garrett tells stories in his songs; they need to be listened to — sink in & he adds fine guitar picking throughout.
However, by the time you reach “Mustard Seed,” you may disagree with me. That’s fine. The songs have wonderful lines, good subject matter: the old west, literature, mental health & love. Not run-of-the-mill song fodder. Each tune has an engaging arrangement. “Dennis,” is one – “he was a man without an anchor…” pretty nice.
Wieland traverses folk, roots, old school country & western with skill. No song falls into maudlin sand traps. Garrett is inspired, writes well & the melodies develop throughout the songs as “Make It Count,” suggests. What is really to be admired about Garrett is that he chooses his song subjects from an inspirational basket few songwriters know exist. This is value-added to Wieland’s showcase. He surprises.
“To Be Grateful,” is dressed in slow guitar/piano finery. The melody is a jewel. Well sung & memorable.
Recorded in Corpus Christi/Skidmore, Texas “What Keeps The Heart Afloat” (Thieves’ Den Records) is a late-comer to my desk. Well-worth the wait. Garrett has a definite place among country-folk-roots writers & singers. His original material is worthy of covering. None of Wieland’s songs sound based on anything from the past or other sources. He assembles his tunes with careful attractive lines & tonality. Something Leonard Cohen used to do.
Other well-performed tunes include “Devotion,” with its steady drums that add drama. In the well-titled “Outlaw’s Farewell,” the music is vintage country & western with Spanish spirit. “A Hand in the Dark,” is an infectious melody. A song dedicated to Townes van Zandt (“To Carry Rain”) is also a good listen.
The 12-songs were produced & realized by Mason Shirley (drums/organ/pedal steel) with Garrett (vocals/guitars/bass/mandolin/piano), Carrie Mae Pierce (cello) & Zak Kaszynski (trumpet). Lots to appreciate with Garrett Wieland’s songs.
I like this guy; he carries a big musical tradition with little effort & gets the tales across with expertise. He’s like a young man with old man experience. When an artist can write songs that Waylon Jennings would’ve sung & Jim Reeves too – that’s great songwriting.
The 45-minute CD is available @ iTunes & CDBaby + https://www.garrettwielandmusic.com/