Joe Wunderle is from northeast Ohio; however, this album sounds like a desert. If a desert could have a sound. However again we are getting ahead of ourselves. Introductions need to be had first. On the pedal steel Stephen “Tebbs” Karney, fiddle Anthony Papaleo, mandolin Austin Stambaugh, upright bass Jason Willis, and guitar and vocals Joe Wunderle. Each one of these fellas adds to the layers of the songs that transported me from my own home in Ohio to some Mexican desert, and not in a bad way.
It’s not all desert though. Through the gravel in Joe’s voice, and the lonesome sound of fiddle and pedal steel there’s also an Ohio front porch. On a lazy Sunday strumming some chords, a coffee, and maybe a wind chime clanking. Three songs into “Nowhere from Here” this is what I thought. Then eight songs later the fictitious rocking chair, on the fictitious front porch, that I was in and on rocked me away.
I read somewhere he recorded this gem above the Plank Road Tavern in Lakewood, Ohio in a two-room apartment. Something about that minimalism was pleasant to here. I didn’t listen to the album through any fancy speakers or headphones. I’m listening through my very shitty speakers on my desktop computer at work. Listening to the album this way was done accidentally, and I’m glad I did. Because the album sounds like a 1950’s recording of some long-lost record. Pulled out from a stack of records at a grandmother’s house, or mothers. The “live” sound gives the songs an extra breath. Behind them it almost sounds like a vinyl record put into some digital media form, at times. There’s a static, and I’ve enjoyed it.
Joe’s writing is why all the above have happened. Along with some truly great playing from everyone that contributed. A line like “just tryin to keep the rain from knockin me down,” is how the album starts and from there kick your shoes off the ride only gets better. He’s telling stories, and without ever talking to him I’m okay with not knowing what they are about. Maybe they are a little autobiographical mixed with something pulled from somewhere that was just laying on a shelf in his brain. What he is doing for eleven songs is painting. He’s taking you on a ride, and for me that ride sent me on a train and dropped me off in a Mexican desert left to decide from there.
Joe Wunderle and the fellas he had play on this record with him locked me in, three songs into this record. I’m not sure where the desert came from but that’s what I see in my mind as I’ve been listening to these songs. Maybe it’s Joe’s writing, maybe it’s the pedal steel and fiddle playing of each other, maybe it is all of this, but it certainly put me nowhere from here. Nowhere from where I am right now, but totally present at the same time. This is an album I would highly recommend. They put something together that I am happy I heard. This album will be dropping on May 31st. Tune into the CincyMusic Facebook page on Sunday, May 31st at 6p to hear Joe play live.