With eleven songs that can be sung around the campfire yet also maintain a rock-n-roll energy at the same time, Easy Ways to Here is for those who like feel-good country roots music. It’s one of those albums that discusses the important things in life, while scratching that sonic itch to the ears of all it falls upon. The band’s main goal was to make listeners feel heartbreak and cry, or feel cheerful and smile.
Consisting of Ben Westlund (vocals, guitar), Shawn Huestis (keys), Jimmy Royce (skins), Brendan O’Connor (upright bass), and Harmony Griffin (strings), Uncle Ben’s Remedy personifies what it means to produce authentic, blue collar music. Prior to their upcoming release, UBR has put out three quality albums: Yesterday’s Clothes, followed by Not Far from the Tree, and The Things That Bring You Back.
The songs cover all the bases with heartfelt lyrics and ranging country-fried melodies, and there is something to empathize or help you in anything. The band shared, “These are story songs. Songs about the people we grew up with; grew together with and grew apart from. This music is medicine.” There is nothing quite like having songs tied to seasons in your life.
The opening track on the album, “Drink to Remember”, is more of one for laughing and dancing to with friends and family. Instead of drinking to forget, it’s rather to remember the good ol’ days and the memories that we hold dear. The prominent banjo drives the track, and brings the listener back to being a kid, and the days of not having a care in the world.
“Name on His Shirt” seems to have many meanings, but tells of those salt of the earth folks who tend to be “forgotten” or “overlooked” in life. Jobs with name tags are as crucial as any other, and worth comes from serving society, not being defined by a name tag. The pre-chorus describes it perfectly: “He ain’t tryna set the world on fire/He ain’t tryna be something they’re not/It finally seems it’s the ‘American Dream’/While everyone else here forgot”.
“Gone Home” is another track harnessing a quality vintage country sound, but the unique melody grabs you right away. The stripped back guitar and vocals give it a vulnerable and airy feel- the kind that makes you never want the song to end.
In one of the last lines of the album in the song, “Easy Ways to Here”, the band sings, “They say time heals everything, and my heart feels like maybe I’m okay.” The song describes knowing that there aren’t really any good ways to hear that someone doesn’t love you anymore. The slower tempo can’t help but make one reflect on past heartbreaks, yet at the same time the upbeat spirit makes it a good one to sway to, and perhaps this time, drink to forget.
Uncle Ben’s Remedy developed their chops in #BillsMafia country in Western New York, and the community-focused atmosphere steered them to create a raw and back-porch type of country music they love. They are a staple and a mainstay in the Greater Buffalo area and beyond in the Americana and country scene, and it’ll be exciting to see what they have in store for 2021.
The album will be available on all streaming services come Friday, and with the season of being with family and yearly reflection coming upon us, it’s a darn good album to listen to start to finish.