Over the last eight years or so, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Wes Speight’s recorded a catalog of songs that draw from mainstream rock, piano balladry, and an Americana tinge that reflects his Tennessee roots. All of that’s on display in Benevolent Transformer, his newest EP, and we’re proud to premiere it here at Artist Home.
Benevolent Transformer follows up Speight’s April 2020 release, Laid Bare. The latter EP lives up to its title: It’s a spare but lovely acoustic pop record where the romanticism of Rufus Wainwright engages in an affecting slow dance with singer-songwriter folk.
The five cuts on Benevolent Transformer, in contrast, cast a wider net. “Gone But Not Forgotten,” a great cry-in-your-beer ballad, is buoyed by some gorgeous rootsy harmonies. The mini-epic, “Dreamed a Stream of Consciousness” re-imagines Bruce Springsteen’s blue-collar rock in a dream pop framework, and Speight’s gift for self-harmonizing punctuates the reflective piano melody on “A New Wrong.”
The EP’s bookended by its two strongest cuts. Speight’s luminous acoustic guitar picking and appropriately soaring voice on the EP closer, “Fly On Raven,” somehow bridge the gap between Nick Drake and Chris Cornell. And “More of the Same,” Benevolent Transformer‘s opening track , represents some of his best songwriting. The song’s protagonist stares unsparingly into the abyss of COVID-era America (“Seems to me, that the government isn’t in it for the citizens/Seems to me, that what replaces sin is when you’re in it only to win”), even as he yearns for a lover’s touch. And Speight’s cavernous, Duane Eddy-style guitar and wounded falsetto punctuate the emotional pull of the words with dusky magic.
Benevolent Transformer drops on Bandcamp today.