Wellbeloved is the music of David Wellbeloved, and The Rusty is his first studio recording in over 25 years. ‘Rusty’ is a term we usually apply to someone who hasn’t applied a process for a long time, and just isn’t as smooth as he/she used to be while doing that process. However, Wellbeloved doesn’t come off rusty at all, and sounds like he picks up right where he left off. This album is described as containing sounds that range “from punk to psychedelic to twang, with a few hints of jazz, prog, and blues tossed in.” It’s all these sounds, and more.
Twangy blues comes along right away with “Thankful (Not Fire),” which features Charlie Kramer’s lap steel guitar, which gives this languid groove plenty of woozy country-ness. Wellbeloved reveals some of his political side with “Freedom Is A Shotgun,” which rolls to a messy, Bo Diddley groove. Then during “Green Line To U,” Wellbeloved sings in a low, bellowing tone, which comes off a little bit like blues legend, Howlin Wolf. With it, Wellbeloved puts himself into a character that is desperately lonely.
With “The Values,” Wellbeloved gives us a rollicking rock song, complete with saxophone and female backing vocals, which gives the track a bit of a ‘70s Rolling Stones feel. Lyrically, Wellbeloved complains that, basically, everybody’s yelling but not really saying much. In other words, sound and fury, signifying nothing. The track has an ominous tone, which will leave you feeling uneasy. Intentionally so.
While much of the music on this album is loud and clanky, one with three exclamation points in its title, “Now! Now! Now!” begins slowly and quietly. It sounds like the soundtrack to a lazy desert day, with so much heat dryness, one may not want to be too ambitious. It features plenty of great, strummed guitar work. It, too, creates a mood, as an instrumental where the listener basically fills in the blanks as to what it means.
The album closes with another quiet one, which is called “(I See).” It, too, incorporates plenty of tasty guitar. Only in this case, Wellbeloved sings on it with a relaxed vocal tone. It’s also a fairly positive song, as Wellbeloved describes his expanded vision. “I see a world that loves me,” he sings at one point. This is quite the revelation! He also sings of seeing a world that trusts him. Yes, we sometimes can have an adversarial relationship with the world we live in. However, we’ve only got one life, and we can only live on this one planet, so we might as well learn to get along with it. This is a quiet, hopeful realization on Wellbeloved’s part. This doesn’t negate all the problems in the world that Wellbeloved sings about earlier in the album. No, this one is much more personal. He can’t control everything that happens around him, but always CAN control his attitude. He chooses to see the good that’s out there, and that’s an admirable perspective. This one, in addition to its nice guitar parts, also throws in some sweet saxophone.
Wellbeloved is not rusty at all but sounds to be fully in his element throughout this fascinating album.