“Western Medicine” by Greg Loftus
2022 has been producing a lot of intriguing content among independent players, and so far, to say the year’s output has been superior to what the past year had to offer would be too great an understatement to make. Artists like Greg Loftus, who found some success with the bold compilation record The Soft Sound of Sundown in 2020, are forging ahead this year, and refusing to take the standards set forth by the status quo musicians of the world even somewhat seriously.
Loftus’ new record Western Medicine and its two single-worthy tracks expand on a lot of thematic elements found in his older works, but with a wholly exotic twist. A hint of countrified Americana enters the fold right out of the gate here, and even though it’s complemented by a folk-infused take on roots music, it doesn’t sound particularly muddled or overly alternative by design at all. Singer/songwriters have been given quite the challenge in keeping pop interesting in this brave new world, but for talent like this, it’s not as daunting a task as it would be for his less-than-sophisticated contemporaries in and out of the American underground.
The strings in “When My Day Comes” are evocative as any of the lyrics are, and in the first half of the song, I think they set up the narrative better than anything else could have. The percussion here is pretty loud in the master mix, but I think it needed to be to create a sense of consistency beneath the somewhat uneven rhythm of the melodic instrumentation. The bassline contributes some contrast to the track that would have been a little out of place were it not joined with a larger-than-life drum part, and to some extent, this kind of aesthetical hybridity is what Greg Loftus has become known for in the past three years. He doesn’t have any desire to blend in with the crowd; if he did, he definitely wouldn’t be going out of his way to make even simple artistic amalgamations like folk and bar band-style country feel as multilayered and highbrow as they do in this song.
Honestly, Greg Loftus’ music has yet to let me down as a critic or as a fan, and I get the impression that what I’m hearing in “Hill Country Choir” is a gilded sneak preview of what his upcoming endeavors are going to sound like. There aren’t a lot of players who have a cut-and-dry appreciation for the simple stuff left anymore, but this is one artist who I can tell has a genuine love for the intricacies that turn a basic song into an anthem of emotionality. He isn’t necessarily breaking the mold with songs like “When My Day Comes” or “Hill Country Choir,” but I for one don’t think he wanted to. Greg Loftus is out to make music for times both good and bad, and right now, the earth is going to benefit from the feel-good energy he’s serving up in spades with this hot new release.