It officially feels like summer. The weather is warm, you can smell the summer rain before it hits, and the wind is blowing in that windows-down way that only occurs over the next few months. As places and cities start to re-open and life starts to resume in a revised way, new music is just the thing needed to kick off this new chapter of life. Gone West’s debut album, Canyons is perfect for all these things — summer, slowing down, reflecting, and beginnings.
The album’s opener is “Gone West”, a self-titled song that sums up the band’s story. In some way or another, each band member goes west to feel recharged and to feel like themselves. Whether it be Texas, Hawaii, California, Iowa, or their current home, Nashville, they’ve “gone west to bring the best back” with them. The band consists of four members: Colbie Callait, Nelly Joy, Jason Reeves, and Justin Kawika Young. Callait and Reeves have been close friends for over a decade, writing and producing songs like the award-winning “Bubbly” and the hit “I Never Told You”. Reeves is married to Joy, a fellow singer-songwriter, and is close friends with Callait. Young and Callait were formerly engaged and has been Callait’s guitar player for over a decade, and has had his own impressive solo career. Together, the four formed a band.
Songs like “Slow Down”, “Knew You” and “Tides” all have the beachy, ethereal vibes of Callait’s Californian and Young’s Hawaiian roots. “Slow Down” was written by the band and producer Jamie Kenney. “You make me want to slow down/Baby, make it easy/I’ll take the long way ‘round/Just as long as you’re with me”, the band harmonizes on the chorus. “Slow Down” sounds like driving down the California coast. Channeling their love of Bob Marley is “Knew You”, the reggae-country breakup jam that is perfect to listen to at the beach.
Despite this being the debut album from Gone West, they have such a distinct sound that is heard throughout the entire record. It’s reminiscent of Callait and Young’s earlier work and similar to the music of Jack Johnson and Gavin DeGraw. It’s a perfect blend of country, folk, pop, and reggae rolled into one.
There are quite a few breakup songs sung by Callait and Young that fit the theme of parting ways with a loved one and starting over. Among them are songs like “Home Is Where The Heartbreak Is” and their current top 30 single “What Could’ve Been”. “I’m Never Getting Over You”, a fan favorite off Gypsy Heart written by Callait, Reeves, and the legendary Liz Rose. The once poppy song is now a heartbreaking ballad about a love that needs to end, even though both parties still love each other. Another standout is “When To Say Goodbye”, which echoes the previous songs. It’s about two people parting ways because they know they loved as much as they could, and “real love knows when to say goodbye.”
“This Time” and “Tides” are the stunning reflections of life. “This Time” has magical, swirling harmonies that are reminiscent of The Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac. “Tides”, the closer, has dreamy, oceanside guitar and vocals, and it exudes happiness and serenity. There is something nostalgic about it that makes it sound like it’s looking back at the other 12 songs like memories in the past.
Gone West has captured literal lightning in a bottle on Canyons; each song tells a melodic and lyrical story, and it feels like a timeless tale that can be told over and over again. There’s no doubt that it will. It’s effortless, thought-provoking, yet simple. It’s hard to make the perfect album, but Gone West comes pretty close to doing so. Country albums like this are rare, and it will be exciting to see what comes next for the group.
Canyons is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
When To Say Goodbye
Gone West Canyons Tracklist:
What Could’ve Been
When To Say Goodbye
I’m Never Getting Over You
Talkin’ Bout You
Home Is Where The Heartbreak Is
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