Wesley Dean – unknown (Hall of Flames Records)
For over a decade, Wesley Dean – going by the name Wes Carr as well as Buffalo Tales – has built an impressive career in his native Australia. After winning a season of Australian Idol, he went on to put out half a dozen albums (between LPs and EPs), and toured venues across the county. In an impressive gamble with an already successful career in Australia, last year he moved his family to Nashville to start a new chapter, dropping his last name in favor of his middle name. Dean’s latest album, Unknown, is a solid calling card for his new audience offering a great mix of Americana and roots rock.
The record opens on the autobiographical “Leave Adelaide Alone,” a slow roots rocker which serves as explanation of sorts for his migration to the States. In fact, all 14 tracks on the tracks here are autobiographical, written at a time when Dean was at a crossroads and trying to figure out what to do with a career he’d been working at since he was a teenager. Unknown is a pretty apt title considering his next move.
“I’d write a song and immediately record it,” dean said of the process that went into creating this record. “We encapsulated this feeling of traveling overseas from Australia to America, arriving in our new home, and finding out way forward.”
Elsewhere on the album, “Gaslighter” opens with a blast of harmonica before falling into a solid guitar strumming Dean singing plaintively about being lied to. While the sentiment may have been sung hundreds of times before, his powerfully emotive vocals are hard to ignore on this track; while “Gateway 7,” one of the album’s best songs is dripping with Tom Petty’s influence. Unknown closes on the title track, a quiet piano ballad about saying goodbye to his family as he heads off to Nashville – with a recording of Dean, his wife and young children saying goodbye to Australia and talking about their new home. It’s a fitting bookend to strong record and a surprisingly emotional song.