With endearing insight and perfectly dolloped irony to match the most iconic bards, Stuart Ross is a threat to your prescribed epistemology. To be honest, if you’re not sure whether your existential foundation can endure some tectonic shift, you may not even want to bother queueing up his full- length album, Way Back. I feel the music in my bones, but I am a word man at my core, and the lyrics that Mr. Ross writes are top notch. He also plays acoustic guitar well, and can professionally plot out a course on the piano. Most everyone will have their lives’ trajectories magnified by at least one of these narratives. To digress to an even more inward- looking vantage, there may be tears.
Way Back begins with the bright and promising instrumental piano track “Easy Does It,” but quickly presents an extensive menu of raw, sparsely elegant courses like the title track (an historic enigma), “The Beaver Parable,” in which daydreaming is glorified and commerce is reduced to “saying thank you in cash,” and “You Are My Blood,” which is as powerful a juxtapositioning of eternal, unconditional love and living, breathing mortality as has ever been written.
For my money, “Surprise,” although singularly quirky and off-the-cuff, is near the top of this heap of poignant, free cultural work. It’s an epic poem of one soul’s place in time; a tale that evokes an empathetic tear or three by reminding me that “nobody knows, hard as they try,” but that we “got it all on the video” and can always “watch the playback.”
“Some Trouble” colors in the other end of the lucky listener’s spectrum with absurd laughter at the expense of a “thief, drunk, scallywag” pizza thief—“wide-eyed and terrified”—barrelling down Bourbon Street before earning himself a “standing spot in the tank tonight” from the variety of trouble that’s “paid to keep you in line.”
It should be noted that Way Back is capped on both sides by light, joyous solo piano pieces; in closing we are treated to the rollicking landscape of “Palomita”. In addition to the elegant bookends, “On My Day Off” and “Ginsberg” also provide complementary instrumental intermissions for the listeners.
The warm, fuzzy feelings that come with listening to Way Back make one wonder if Stuart has any familial relation to Bob Ross, the great warrior of love with paintbrush and palette.
Stuart Ross is, among other things, a singer songwriter from Austin, Texas. He’s starts with no plans or ideas and takes what the gods
give him. Sometimes he thinks he’s really on
to something and he keeps at it and he thinks it through and sometimes he gets to the end and he’s like, wow! Most of the time, no. – From Stuart’s “About” blurb on Jamendo.com
I’ll never have enough, but I’m getting there. – Stuart Ross
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