Towards the West is Rhys Marsh’s fourth solo album. Being an album of seemingly simple songs (in itself, no bad thing), it was in production for quite some time. But this is misleading. The music reflects Rhys’s personal experiences relating to the sad loss of his father during its long gestation.
Rhys’s music is often tempered by an almost signature melancholy, and clearly his muse comes from within. Many of my favourite artists have used this as their inspiration, but this music is clearly not based in any abstract notion of ennui or introspection. Rhys has used his talents to express some deeply personal feelings.
Rhys played all the instruments on the album, which, to me, adds an element of personalisation that might be missing were there a band presenting this intimate and touching music as if by proxy. Collectively, this has resulted in songs that take on a profoundly heart-on-sleeve atmosphere. Towards the West is awash with acoustic guitar and piano. The instruments supplement Rhys’s distinctive voice, often laid bare, adding to this feeling, and making the music a personal communication from Rhys.
As Rhys says in the press release: “All the songs are about quite specific moments in time that my Dad and I shared over the past year… ultimately it’s because of him and his inspiration that I got into music in such a big way, so I’m forever grateful for that”.
Given that each song represents moments that Rhys shared with his late father, this knowledge of the music’s origins almost takes on the mantle of a mission statement, and this has clearly informed the shapes these songs have assumed.
For example, the opening track, Loved and Lost, is clearly a product of heart and mind – as are all the songs on this beautiful album. It sets the mood. Rhys’s vocal performance transcends the simplicity of the lyric. In me, the music triggered my own personal memories of loss… those emotions that always bubble just below the surface in anyone who has lost someone. It is my favourite, though it’s a close one, as The Gold in the Sun, I guess, is my joint favourite song. While it’s equal in terms of melancholy, it contrasts strongly against the simplicity and sincerity of Loved and Lost with its intensity and drama.
Yet this sense of melancholy is also pitched against some truly uplifting moments…
I have no doubt what we hear is the result of a most thoughtful and intense process – with Rhys striving to achieve as close to perfection as possible, to honour his father’s memory. Rhys has every right to be profoundly satisfied with this album, and I feel confident that his late father would be exceptionally proud. Would that we were all able to express ourselves, when faced with loss, in such a touching way.
Thank you for sharing this with us, Rhys.
01. Loved and Lost (2:05)
02. The Gold in the Sun (10:07)
03. It’s Like You Always Said (5:57)
04. Cauterise (8:15)
05. Grenville Street (1:40)
06. We’ll See You Again (7:31)
07. Aspen (2:34)
Total Time – 38:10
Rhys Marsh — Vocals, Piano, Mellotron, Hammond Organ, Guitars, Pedal Steel, Bass Guitars, Drums
Daniel Leirvik-Marsh – Additional Vocals (on Aspen)
It’s Like You Always Said features the voice of Rhys’s father, recorded in 1970
Music written & recorded in September 2022
Vocals written & recorded in January 2023
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 1st September 2023