You may have heard of a conceptual album, but what about a conceptual band. Aaron West is the alter ego of Dan “Soupy” Campbell, lead singer The Wonder Years (another great band you should check out). Dan released his debut album back in 2014, following it up with an EP last year.
Aaron West has racked immense sadness since his father passed. His wife has since left him, after having a miscarriage. He can’t afford rent and is struggling with alcohol abuse. He now spends his days either wallowing in self-pity or reminiscing about the good ol’ days. While this specific combination of events may not have happened to you (and I sincerely hope it hasn’t), you can’t help but feel for the guy and connect with him on some level. We’ve all dealt with loss and some part of us always wishes we could go back in time to simpler times.
Musically, the project mainly consists of folk arrangements. Acoustic guitar surrounded by light percussion, some banjo, lap steel, harmonica and even a brass section. The folk instruments really add to the melancholic sound that has become typical of the band.
Lyrically, Dan is one of, if not my favorite songwriter. His songs will be about really big picture things like Aarons relationship with his wife, but lyrically he will focus on something so seemingly insignificant. His song Grapefruit is named after the colour of their prospective babies room. He pinpoints the most powerful aspects of the narrative and gives them priority in the song but then drives it all home over something so small. It’s those little things that really give the songs the depth and emotion that makes me such a fan of his work.
Their debut LP, We Don’t Have Each Other, is built like a novel. Every time I listen to it I pick up something new about the characters and each song grows in meaning as I learn more about each character. The most captivating aspect of movies, books or T.V. shows is our relationship with the characters. How we see each character and what we feel towards them play a pivotal role in connecting us to the story.
Through Aaron we are introduced to his parents, his wife, his landlord and many other people that he encounters in his travels. We begin to understand what he is going through and how his relationships have shaped the man he is today.
Ideally, you would listen to the entire album and then the EP, but to give you a taste of what to expect, check out the selections below.
You wouldn’t only read select chapters from a novel would you, check out the whole album