Erika Wennerstrom. Sweet Unknown. Partisan Records

a1556881509_16With her Austin based band Heartless Bastards on a hiatus, Erika Wennerstrom allows her full bodied voice an outing on a solo debut that is the result of a period of introspective soul searching, sparked off by a hallucinogenic experience in South America. She’s taken her time in crafting these nine songs which alternate from scorching rockers to more laid back country tinged songs with all of them relating to her self confessed anxieties and what she sees as a sort of spiritual and physical recovery from years on the road. Having said all that the album is a buoyant affair for the most part despite lyrics which can be dark such as, “I crack so deep, cracks that went right down to the bone,” and, “I’m searching for a place to feel like home, a place where I could breathe.”

There’s a centrepiece in the shape of Be Good To Yourself and Staring Out The Window, two songs which sound weirdly enough like Patti Smith singing with the Velvet Underground but before these Wennerstrom storms the barricades with slabs of guitar and pounding bass on the opener Twisted Highway and Extraordinary Love, an overarching vista of her trip to the jungle and her “mind expanding” experience. Coming out of the rabbit hole on the other side there’s a redemptive quality of sorts in the mildly psychedelic groove of Good To Be Alone while Like A Bird finds Wennerstrom in an LA country rock mood. The sparkling Letting Go is another LA canyon influenced song and Time, with a mellotron added to the mix, ripples along nicely with Wennerstrom again reminding one of Patti Smith in her vocal delivery. The only issue with the album is that for such a confessional outing Wennerstrom’s words are sometimes lost within a torrent of sound.

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