Album Review: Darling West – We’ll Never Know Unless We Try

darling westDarling West – We’ll Never Know Unless We Try

Americana | Country | Folk

80%

Norwegian duo Darling West make the kind of music that you grow up alongside, the kind that carries an ageless charm that can be whatever you need and is there whenever you need it. We’ll Never Know Unless We Try embodies the tried and tested Americana sound that so many of us grew up on. It’s a sound that feels like home and takes us back to the brightest days of our childhood, a sound passed on almost like a family heirloom. It has the lush, warm arrangements that soundtrack our carefree summers and all the adventures contained within, the kind of golden harmonies that you bask in when a new love is forming and your heart is all aflutter, and a soft country twang that brings all those memories flooding back years later.

In this respect the new record is in much the same vein as the band’s previous releases. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: if you found yourself in the shoes of Darling West, having perfected a style so charming and endearing, you wouldn’t have much of an inclination to reinvent the wheel either. In many respects you know exactly what you’re getting with this record: vocals warbling like a songbird in spring, bright engaging melodies, gentle acoustic strumming and a dash of harmonica, all against the warm backdrop of steel guitars. While We’ll Never Know doesn’t quite reach the same heights as its predecessor While I Was Asleep, it still has plenty of standout moments. The duo wear their Fleetwood Mac influences on their sleeve with ‘Make It Last’, ‘River’ has a superb bass line and some dreamy laid-back guitar work, while closing track ‘When Mountains Fall’ explores a more traditional folk feel. It’s the heartwarming hook of ‘True Friends’ that proves to be the album’s real highlight however, celebrating friendships standing firm when times get tough.

While the new record stays the same in all the right ways, it also makes a few small changes in just the right places. Most notably regarding the pacing. While the previous record was very top heavy, on this latest release the band distributes its highlights much more evenly. Instead of burning out midway through it is a slow burning record that gets better with each passing minute, and moreover keeps you coming back for more. It may not reinvent the wheel but it puts that same wheel to better use; not as quick off the mark but instead settling in to a comfortable cruise that you just don’t want to end.