Now Playing: Wes Collins’ ‘Jabberwockies’ 

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Collins
Image courtesy of Broken Jukebox Media



Wes Collins is prepping for the release of a new album. It’s titled Jabberwockies and has a drop date of June 1st, 2022. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

Wes Collins

Collins
Collins/Image by Stan Lewis

Wes Collins is an American singer-songwriter and musician based in North Carolina. According to his official website reports that his rockin’ resume includes two previous platters. He has also performed live coast to coast and won the Grassy Hills New Folk Competition, garnered a North Carolina Arts Council Songwriting Fellowship, and has been a finalist in The Telluride Troubadour Contest, and both The Songwriter’s Serenade Competition and The Wildflower Performing Songwriter Contest in Texas.

Signature Sound

Wes Collins’ signature sound is a blend of music genres including Americana and folk. His sources of inspiration include Bruce Cockburn, Neil Finn, Patty Griffin, and Gillian Welch.  

Jabberwockies

Jabberwockies is a 10-track album of original material out of 30 songs that he has written since 2017. According to a recent email, he “wrote most of the songs on Jabberwockies ‘in character,’ so you might catch the occasional hint of Wes’s North Carolina accent.” On this release, Collins leads the way on guitars and vocals. He is backed by an assortment of other artists including River Guerguerian (drums), FJ Ventre (bass), Franklin Keel (cello), Matt Smith (pedal steel), Scott Dameron (electric and acoustic guitars), Barry Gray (acoustic guitar and harmony vocals), co-producer Chris Rosser (Hammond B3 organ, Farfisa organ, harmonium, and piano), Jaimee Harris (harmony vocals), and Ordinary Elephant–Pete Damore (octave mandolin) and Crystal Hariu-Damore (harmony vocals).

Track by Track

The album opens with “Jenny and James.” This is a song about a lifelong connection and a pair of people who have no chance of ever getting together . . .even though the story somehow seems like in another universe it could have been different. Unlike all the other songs here, this is not a Collins solo composition. It was co-written with Ordinary Elephant.

The second selection is “Under My Fingers.” It is the first example of Collins’ solo songwriting skills. Anyone who has tried to pay the bills by writing or composing can surely appreciate this one.  

The next number is “Cocoon.” It’s a little sad but nevertheless noteworthy and somehow touching or at least relatable.  

“Last Saturday” follows. This one is intimate, insightful, and employs some memorable musical metaphors to boot.   

The lyrical life lesson “Look Out” is vaguely reminiscent of early Don McLean. This one, like a few others here, does make one think about how Collins seems unafraid of writing melancholic, poignant (sometimes even darker) songs that make you really think.  

“Medusa” is the sixth selection. The song is also an early fave of fans and critics and deservedly so as it is certainly a fun, tuneful tale that should not be ignored. It works especially well after the previous piece.

Some might suggest “Grease Fire” is deceptively titled. Your pensive penman prefers to see it as an apt musical metaphor meant to make listeners stop and think or maybe even deem it (and in truth much of the other material) worthy of multiple listens.  

Although not considered a “focus track” by the powers that be, “The Trees” truly sounds like a worthy single. It’s a standout piece as Collins presents or portrays a veteran forest ranger. (Oddly, Collins frequently seems to want us to remember that the trees are always greener on the other side of the forest, so to speak. Still, it works for him, so roll with it.) 

Also included here is the upbeat song “Sugar Skull.” It’s all too welcome and a surprising change of musical pace and direction. (Somehow, it even sounds like it would be an outstanding, original addition to a unique Halloween mix.)     

The album endnote is “Jabberwockies.” His signature sound has remained solid throughout the work. The closing cut is no exception as Collins leaves listeners wanting more with the long-awaited title track.

Overall… 

Overall, this disc features Collins’ emotive vocals, imaginative arrangements, and solo songwriting abilities and demonstrates the growth and expanse of his work since 2017. His oft’times pensive pieces and well thought out and thought-provoking songs that have their own identity but still fit together on the overall presentation. The subject matter of each track spans the length of unrequited love, looks back on life, musical metaphors, and even tuneful tales of such characters as women nicknamed Medusa. So check out Wes CollinsJabberwockies and break free of your musical “Cocoon.”