Wes Tirey – The Midwest Book of the Dead

If the landscape of the midwest had a singing voice, it surely would sing the songs of Wes Tirey.

Tirey, a singer-songwriter that originally hails from a tiny hamlet in Ohio, is ten records deep and writes songs that are road weary and hardened by the grim realities of working class small town life. Much like John Prine and the master lyricists of the classic era of country, Tirey spins the pain and misfortunes of the average down-on-his-luck Joe and turns them into darkly beautiful poetry.

Just take the anthemic “Overworked, Underslept,” for example.:

Overworked, underslept, we’re all pushing back the blues with all that we got left
Overworked, underslept, you can’t even pay your dues with an unemployment check

If that doesn’t sting the heart, then nothing will.

He brings to life his tales of woe and hope with a deep, haunting voice that at times is reminiscent of Blaze Foley’s, and a stark country folk instrumentation. Tirey’s particular sound helps makes each song feel even more human and deeply relatable. Take for instance the somber “Wanda.” This song is a man writing to a woman, of whom he’s never met, about how he’ll someday be able to provide her all of the things she has been missing in her life. He says she can forget the cops and her husband, there are humble riches, a warm meal and the safety of his secure love awaiting her. This is already a strong and compelling concept, yet it’s Tirey’s ragged and warbling vocal delivery accompanied only by hushed acoustic fingerpicking that makes the song feel truly real. There is a staggering amount of talent packed into this record.

This album is absolute proof that Tirey’s songwriting is easily some of the best of his era and easily comparable to the likes of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams.

Click here to get your copy on either tape, CD or digital today.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and Thewaster.com and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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