Wes Tucker & the Skillets,
Beauty in the Broken
(independent, 2006)

Washington, D.C., area band Wes Tucker & the Skillets is back with another CD, Beauty in the Broken. Their music still has its base in folk-rock, but this latest CD is heavier on the rock part than their prior album, Tradition. For new listeners, think folk-rock mixed with a little country twang along with a sprinkle of funk on select tracks. The band definitely has its quieter moments, as well, on what they term their "soulful ballads."

"Soulful ballad" is an apt term to apply to a song like "Bound to Rise." What really appeals to me about this song is that it is led by a tranquil electric guitar sound layered with a simple acoustic guitar melody. The song is really short at 2.5 minutes, which often causes an automatic hit of the rewind button. As the title implies, Wes is stating that despite of the weight of things in life that can bring him down, he is "bound to get it right this time," he is "bound to rise."

I dare a listener not to at least tap along to the beat of a song like opening track "Into the Light." For the first 45 seconds (give or take), the sounds of funk create an intro that belies the band's folk-rock beginnings. The lyrics step into the background on this piece. From funk to country-rock, the band slides seamlessly into the second track, "Casting Stones." Regardless of whether you start paying more attention to the lyrics, you will no doubt still be hooked by the tempo.

The band ends Beauty in the Broken with two folksy tracks. One of these, "Intertwined," is simply Wes and his acoustic guitar. I like the chorus: "Your soul has seen mine/And our spirits have been intertwined./No matter what I do/I shall never be the same./Forever changed by your love." I think from the stanzas that Wes is addressing a former lover. But the chorus could fit a lover, a parent, a friend or even an important mentor in one's life.

Wes Tucker plays guitar, bass and harmonica as well as taking care of lead vocals. Speaking of his singing, if you read my review of Tradition, you know that I was having issues with his style of stutter-singing. He sings the same way on this CD, but it appears I have adapted because I hardly notice it this time around.

The Skillets have increased in size. Dave Rutkowski can be found on the drums, percussion and keyboard. Bryan Washam is on guitar and bass. Just to be different, newcomer Arch Alcantara is listed on bass and guitar. (I guess we know each one's preferred instrument). Washam and Alcantara also provide backing vocals.

If Wes and the band keep moving in the direction they are going, their music might become a little too rock-oriented to get a review in Rambles.NET. The good thing is that the band has shown its versatility. They can rock. They can funk. And they can get folksy when the mood strikes. Beauty in the Broken is just as good, in its own way, as Tradition. My only warning would be to those of you who prefer more folk than rock in your folk-rock.

by Wil Owen
1 July 2006

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