Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Will Rainier: “Wobble In The Moon” (2023) CD Review

Will Rainier is a singer and songwriter based in Seattle. He has played in several bands, such as Tarantulada and Stuporhero, those two under his real name of Will Troy, and, more recently, Will Rainier And The Pines. He released his first solo album, Enough Blue To Go Around, in 2021. That album featured all original material. And now he is following that with Wobble In The Moon. Like his previous solo album, this one features all original material. And in addition to writing all the songs and singing them, Will Rainier plays guitar, piano, organ, synthesizer, trumpet, bass, drums and percussion. Sounds like he wouldn’t need anyone else at all, right? But he does have some guests join him on various tracks, including his wife Jen Garrett on vocals and cello, Christine Hager on piano, Kevin Suggs on pedal steel, Raymond Richards on pedal steel, and Chad Yenney on bass guitar.

The album opens with “The Patio,” its first lines being “I’ll be waiting for you, friends, out on the patio/It seems like it’s the only place they want to let me go.” That second line makes me laugh; yet there is a wistful quality to this track too, as he thinks “about what could have been.” Jen Garrett joins him on vocals here. The two have worked together often, as she too is a member of Tarantulada, Stuporhero and Will Rainier And The Pines. Christine Hager (who is also a member of Will Rainier And The Pines) plays piano on this track, and Chad Yenney is on both bass guitar and synthesizer. I love these lines: “Tell me all about the things that you did today/Doesn’t matter to me if it’s the same as yesterday.” Oh yes, it’s about the connection, it’s about being with that special someone, and not much beyond that matters at all. While this song makes me laugh at the beginning, it turns out to be a rather beautiful and moving number. It is followed by “Are You Waving Goodbye,” which has more of a country vibe. Raymond Richards plays pedal steel on this one, and Kevin Suggs plays baritone guitar. Christine Hager is again on piano, and Jen Garrett joins Will on vocals. And this one is more of a duet, with Jen taking certain lines, such as “Are you waving hello, or are you waving goodbye/I think I can tell by that look in your eye” and “You’re making up the rules, and then breaking them too/Everything’s just a great big game to you.” And together they sing, “You don’t want to face today/You’re always stuck on yesterday,” lines that will likely resonate with many folks.

Raymond Richards also plays pedal steel on “Dark Secret Heart,” and this one does indeed, as its title suggests, have a darker, more somber sound. There is even something ominous about it at moments. Jen Garrett is again on backing vocals, and here she also plays cello. “Memories are fading away/The empty shell of every lost day.” This is an intriguing song. Even those “ooh” vocals are compelling. Then Kevin Suggs joins him on pedal steel on “Your Machine,” and Christine Hager is on piano. In this one, Will Rainier sings, “Keep you chained to your machine/So you won’t stop.” And the very next lines mention television: “On the TV tonight is all sorts of reality/Truth served up the way they want you to see.” Those are among my favorite lines on this album. They apply to not just the so-called and misnamed “reality TV” shows (which are, of course, scripted), but to all we see on television, including (and perhaps especially) the news. Different networks have different versions of reality, leaving us with the feeling that there is no longer actually a common reality, an objective reality. This song begins to build in power toward the end, as he repeats, “Whoa, shut down your machine/Whoa, wake up from the dream.” It’s a really good vocal performance, and this is one of my personal favorite tracks.

In “Wobble In The Moon,” the album’s title track, Will Rainier sings, “Although nothing’s here to stay/And we’ll all be gone someday.” Those lines speak strongly to me, addressing something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. The implications must lead to a change in priorities. Which things are really important, when we’re all just passing through? Of course, what is irritating is when you decide that a whole lot of things are unimportant, but other people demand that you still care about them, that you still play the game. “I guess this was never ours to keep/We gotta give things up when we leave/But I got a memory of you/That I’m going to try to hold onto.” That’s followed by “To Supreme.” On this one, Will Rainer plays trumpet, which helps set the mood at the beginning. Raymond Richards is on pedal steel. “There were dark clouds,” Will Rainier sings, and the song has that feel to it. A darkness, a haziness, an uncertainty. There is sometimes something appealing in that atmosphere, isn’t there? But we can’t dwell there too long. As Will sings here, “But I need to get home/To where I belong/Before I get sucked in and they don’t want to let me go/Before I can’t let go.” And then in “Endless” he sings, “There’s a chance you won’t make it home.” This song is about an astronaut, and its tone changes somewhat subtly as it progresses, beginning in a rather light place and taking on a more somber mood. “Every time I look up to the sky/I’ll wonder if you’re floating by.” That’s a strangely gentle and disturbing image, isn’t it? For I’m picturing a dead astronaut forever in orbit of the planet. Chad Yenney plays bass guitar on this track, and Jen Garrett provides backing vocals.

Christine Hager provides some nice work on piano on “Somewhere Tonight,” one of several songs on this album that mention the dark and night. “Because I’m afraid of the dark,” Will Rainier sings in this one. He then plays trumpet on “Mushroom Gnome & Golden Boy,” the instrument having a very different tone than it did in “To Supreme.” This track has a brighter, lighter feel. And I think many people can relate to these lines: “Still, the giants are growing taller and taller/And I keep feeling smaller and smaller.” The album concludes with “Into The Dark,” with Kevin Suggs playing pedal steel and Christine Hager on piano. Will Rainier delivers a wonderful vocal performance here. “Don’t resist the pull/Walk into the dark.” There is some interesting percussion near the end. Are we walking into a dream at the end? Or perhaps out of one? Either way, it’s beautiful.

CD Track List

  1. The Patio
  2. Are You Waving Goodbye
  3. Dark Secret Heart
  4. Your Machine
  5. Wobble In The Moon
  6. To Supreme
  7. Endless
  8. Somewhere Tonight
  9. Mushroom Gnome & Golden Boy
  10. Into The Dark

Wobble In The Moon is scheduled to be released on June 30, 2023.

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