Wesley Wolfe plays Thursday, June 10, at The Pinhook, with Jason Kutchma and Blag’ard. The $5 show begins at 10 p.m.
Storage, the second album by near-anonymous Carrboro songwriter Wesley Wolfe, is the sort of record that works to remind you of the redemption available in music. Sing your worries, and they’re easier to swallow. Sing your worries through hooks this good (and, on Storage, not one of these 10 numbers misses), and people might even sing along. If misery enjoys company, shared relief equals ascendance.
Wolfe, who recorded Storage by himself at home, sings his self-deprecation with the vigor of deliverance, as if by submitting his misgivings to tape they’re somehow more tolerable. “Locked In,” the mid-album anchor, aims apologies laced with invective at a former lover. “I’m used to blaming you/ But I was wrong/ I wasn’t fair to you/ My mood’s still the same,” he exclaims over a robust acoustic guitar, belting the words like a discovery. In song, he’s found a way to be honest. Likewise, “Another Weed” opens with a lesson in adding insult to injury. Wolfe says he’s a stack of burning booksThe Iliad, The Odyssey and the diary of a crybaby, each itinerant classics of ecumenical characterssending thin smoke signals into the wide world. He admits he’s an ex-Boy Scout still tangled in the knots he once learned to tie, and everything’s full of poison that he’s forgotten how to suck from the wound. These images are inherited and recognizable, adding immediacy and intimacy to the album’s lyrical conceit: Wolfe’s put in his work to be an upright member of society, yet, as he relays in a chorus you won’t soon forget, he’s just a “seed that grew to be another weed.” Who hasn’t had that feeling?
Elsewhere, the colors of the walls sap his inspiration, but he can’t stay home, since he can’t stand himself. No one believes his apologies, and he questions what kind of memory he’ll be for people when he’s gone. And, in an opening line so strong it suggests Bill Callahan editing Charles Bukowski, Wolfe says that the whole life-versus-death border is a tenuous one, anyway: “Everyday I choose coffee over suicide,” he brims. “So far so good/ Run and hide to stay and fight.” These songssomehow lush and primitive, urgent and at easemight convince you to do the latter. For a dude who’s just another weed, Wolfe has delivered one of the most developed and assured singer-songwriter records of the year.