The first time I heard “Off My Back”, I knew I’d found an artist with a story to tell; 2 years later Becky Warren is back with a whole new cast of characters for her newest album ‘Undesirable’, a collection of well weaved ringers painting the portraits of the often faceless.
While you could say that both of Becky’s solo works are concept albums, I think that sells them a bit short. While ‘War Surplus’ certainly stuck pretty-well to the stories of two individuals, I choose to call both albums well researched and inspired, striking a chord with more than those relating to the core concept.
Becky is blessed with an uncanny ability to get inside someone’s head, tear down the walls, and tell their story. There is a short list of people who can do that so well, but Becky’s hook is setting it to a groove that simply forces you to listen, no matter how good, bad or sad the topic.
‘Undesirable’ gets a bit more free-reign than ‘War Surplus’ did, simply because it focuses on a more diverse sample of characters. The stories are inspired by several different folks around Nashville, primarily homeless and previously homeless, but inspired means more than facsimile here; she ran with a story in each song and built on it, creating something more than a simple re-tell, something deeper.
The down-and-out subjects these songs are based on doesn’t make for an album all doom and gloom like you might expect, there is a vein of hope and optimism that runs throughout the record, and presumably through the individuals the songs are based on. I suspect the overwhelmingly upbeat music, even to sometimes downtrodden lyrics, is there specifically for that reason.
“Sunshine State” tells a tale I’d love to see as a music video, or even an hour-long TV drama; the story told in three and a half minutes is perfect, but I’d love to see faces and flashbacks mixed with the current mindset of the protagonist. This is saying a lot, but more than any other song on the album, I feel the hope and change.
“Highway Lights” is one of the darker-shaded songs, though still brimming with hope. Lyrics like “Someday I’m gonna join them, someday I’m gonna get it right” and “Older than I ever thought I’d be, sleeping ‘neath the auto parts store marque” tell so much in such short lines, a true testament to Warren’s ability to speak for those in the shadows.
‘Undesirable’ is book-ended with rockers on both sides, sprinkled with a bit of everything in between, and overflowing with optimism and hope. It's a collection of stories told so eloquently it’s sometimes hard to believe they are based in fact rather than built from the ground up.
Becky Warren has once again introduced us to the cast, told their story, and left us feeling for them long after the album ends.
Find out more about Becky Warren on her website and follow her on Facebook
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