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Feelings feels. It really feels. It makes you feel and it feels as though it has feelings of its own. It feels like it was written in the Great Plains by a drunken hobo riding a white buffalo. It feels like it was recorded in a studio in the back room of a diner while large semi trucks idled outside, the lead singer jumping in to the studio in his trucker hat to record a song, never taking his sunglasses off though it was four in the morning. There is a safety in the danger out on on the plains. It’s hard to drive stakes into the hard ground, to claim your territory, and the whipping wind blows your tarp away. But it’s also hard to get out, because the last bus West just left, always.
Dustin’s voice is strong. It takes a lot of energy to sing his songs. If you sit around with a guitar in your kitchen and try to sing “Albion” while waiting for a pot of water to boil, you will be hoarse and sweating by the time your fettuccine is al dente.
Dustin’s lyrics are really about something. It’s rare anymore to hear a song that also functions as a credo, a statement of what the singer believes as opposed to what words merely fit the syllables and the rhyme scheme. These songs are petroglyphs, carved out after Dustin spent a lot of time on windswept bluffs just listening and watching. He shape-shifts like the old shamans, not physically changing his form, but wrapping his mind around the true empathy of understanding what it’s like to be something else. The songs are always pure statements, things he has seen on quiet nights alone, when the trees start to glow with the energy of life. They are songs that he can get up and sing honestly every night, squeezing out every note with every drop of breath left in his diaphragm, because the songs are true. They are like a tent revival, where the energy they whip up starts to feed back and sustain itself. That is a remarkable achievement. As he sings towards the end of the album, “I just want to feel, God DAMN that’s what feelings are for.”
The songs have great dynamic range, crouching down in quiet reverence in certain parts, ducking below the hedges to avoid the cops, and then bursting out with a parade of trumpets like the world’s happiest jack-in-the-box. Old saws clatter in the shed as an old short wave tunes in the dying sounds of Sputnik’s wonder-inducing beacon. The drums are big and wide as the plains. They cut through the chatter of a New Mexico cantina as clearly as at a Marfa trailer park.
The songs are like rain dances. They start humbly. You wonder what the extent of them could be, and you draw a map in your head of the possible peaks and valleys. And then they swirl around and bring the thunder from over the ridge and the entire town is drenched in rain for the next week and you have to redraw your map a dozen times.
Run To You
Stoned, Drunk, and Blind
Death Highway Motorcade