The work of Brooklyn-based folk singer and multi-instrumentalist W.C. Beck exists somewhere between the rollicking folk introspection common to Laurel Canyon in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and the bucolic tenacity of Wilco or The Jayhawks. Before he settled in New York, Beck spent years working as a full-time musician in his Portland, Oregon — having previously pulled up his roots in his home state of Kansas — and found himself touring with such artists as The Portland Country Underground, Blue Giant, Bobby Bare Jr and Quiet Life. He also performed alongside acts like The Dandy Warhols and The Decemberists on various supporting tours.
Beck’s forthcoming 9th record, “First Flight” (which is due out Jun 7), was recorded at several different places in and around New York City, with assistance from producers Myles Turney (Philip Glass, Beirut, Boy George) and Joel Arnow (Loudon Wainwright III, John Scofield). Inspiration for the new songs struck while he was attending grad school in Paris, and when he completed his studies, he moved back to the US and landed in New York, where he became enamored with the local indie folk and Americana scenes. After meeting and befriending musician Justin Wilcox, they eventually collaborated through Wilcox’s Monteagle project, and its full band composition influenced Beck’s own perspective of the music which would later find its way onto “First Flight.”
Incorporating the alt county twang and strum of his earlier work, as well as a variety of ornate arrangements, rip-roaring rhythms and bouts of aching lyrical reflection, the album finds him stretching the boundaries of the singer-songwriter aesthetic, digging for new truths amid unfamiliar landscapes on his trek to understand our connections with one another. Country rock rumblings sit comfortably next to stripped-down midnight rambles which pine for the years when hearts weren’t so heavy and bodies weren’t quite so bruised.
On recent single, “The Long Way Home,” Beck allows his acoustic guitar and shivering organ to produce an almost hymnal feeling, an earnest Americana landscape where sounds rise and fall around the intonations of his welcoming voice. There’s a deceptive simplicity at work here, with everything seemingly in plain view yet there is a deeper awareness as well, a complicated emotional resonance that clings to the bones in your body. The accompanying video, directed and edited by Josh Wein, finds him traversing beaches, crowded subway hubs and store-lined boardwalks, places where communal introspection and understanding can be absorbed and processed. The song deals with acceptance of life and knowing that there is always so much more to learn and to appreciate. Love and ache and all manner of other experiences affect us in different ways, and Beck makes you realize that we’ll never really comprehend it all. But we can try to treasure every moment that we’re given, and that can be enough..