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Wade Lashley

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Wade Lashley
Wade Lashley

It’s always the quiet ones. Often it takes a silent person to tell the rest of us about life, about emotions and of the complex human situations we all seem to get into.

For a few years now, Flagstaff has been graced by its own quiet observer of life, love and the human experience: Wade Lashley. This week the Flagstaff country-folk troubadour is celebrating the release of In from the Wilderness, an 11-song collection of some of his best tunes that perfectly demonstrate his ability in bottling specific situations to produce a universal mythos of the modern mortal condition. Lashley is a guy who seems often content in simply observing his surroundings, sipping his happy hour beer at Pay ‘N Take, chatting and always taking mental notes of his surroundings. Every word that comes out of his mouth is deliberate, every action purposeful. Listening to In from the Wilderness, the listener gets a real sense of the author of these songs. Much like his persona, there is never a guitar chord, vocal melody, harmonica lick or word out of place.

On In from the Wilderness Lashley leads an emotional journey through the not-so-rosy side of personal relationships, with a sometimes happy resolution, but an ever-present challenge to the listener to figure it out on their own. The title track of the album, “In From the Wilderness,” utilizes a distinct minor-key feel while declaring “Melody lies waiting on the breeze,” summing up Lashley’s sometimes whimsical wordplay among the imagery of the destitute and somewhat depraved.

When Lashley opens his mouth, snapshots of situations and the heart wrenching feelings of his subjects come through in his smooth baritone, lightly peppered with a country twang. His songs are journalistic in nature and, according to Lashley, many of his tunes are mentally earmarked and written in people watching sessions. No matter how specific the problem or crisis, Lashley can always find a way to relate liars, cheaters, breakups and heartache to his listeners, who hang on his words like a bookworm enthralled with a literary classic.

In from the Wilderness has a stripped down Nebraska-esque Bruce Springsteen feel with its bare bones, sparse production, and contemplative, multilayered lyrical content. All 11 tracks were recorded live at Sundisc Studios by Chris Donnelly with the only overdubs being the occasional harmonica breaks in songs such as the album’s first track, “Down like the Rain.”

“Both Hands on the Wheel,” the third song on the album, provides a snapshot of a knockdown drag-out, relationship-ending fight that Lashley may have been involved in; or may have just observed—for the purpose of the story it doesn’t really matter. The point is driven home in the clincher line, “Can’t make someone stay if they’re ready to drive away.” No matter if the listener has ever been embroiled in the exact scenario; Lashley’s words make them understand.

The second track on the record, “Shelter in My Arms,” revisits the theme of a happy melancholy. Lashley sings, “Take my hand when that sweet sadness comes. You’ll find shelter in my arms.” These words echo as the thesis statement of Lashley’s music: The sweet sadness he sings of refers to that edge where there is comfort and hope in the downhearted and dejected.

For Lashley that sweet sadness in his songs makes it all worthwhile; for there is grief within beauty and glory within imperfection. Sadness certainly never sounded so sweet.

Wade Lashey will celebrate the release of In from the Wilderness by performing his Nashville-ready tunes on the Flagstaff Brewing Co. patio, 16 E. Rte. 66, Thu, June 30 at 9 p.m. For more info, see www.wadelashley.com or call 773-1442.

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