It’s uncommon for a contemporary artist to create a timeless album, an album that is both surprising and comforting. Yet after only a few listens to the new record from WEINLAND, a soon to be well known quintet from Portland, Oregon, you’ll know it’s still possible. Their achievement is celebrated on Breaks In The Sun, the follow up to 2008’s critically acclaimed La Lamentor (Badman Recording Co.), and the manner in which they wrote and recorded this collective work.
Principal songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Adam Shearer explains: “We recognized the ‘70s-ness of our choice to book and arrive for studio time without a single completed song... and we embraced it.“
Working with close friend Adam Selzer (M. Ward, Norfolk & Western) and Badman label head Dylan Magierek (Mark Kozelek, Thao Nguyen) at Type Foundry Studios for two weeks without a break, sometimes as many as 16 hours a day, Breaks In The Sun was committed to 2” tape amidst sleep deprivation, whiskey consumption, and trust. The result is a collection of songs full of intimacy and excitement. “There’s something magical about the way a new song sounds the first time you play it. That’s a feeling we’re always trying to recreate,” says Shearer, “and in this case we got it to tape as it happened, at conception.”
The characters in Shearer’s lush songs are often tense, morose and struggling, but they’re informed by a wry, celebratory hope and surrounded by a measured calm that runs through the entire album. It’s this calm sense of knowing which foils the emotional complexity in Shearer’s lyrics, that and the gorgeously subdued vocal harmonies, atmospheric finger picking, dobro, cellos, violins, brushed drums, melodica, mandolin, honeyed pedal steel, piano, melodic low end, and subtle percussive minutiae. The subjects’ tribulations find them navigating broken trust, love, lust, poverty, and addiction, but they’re safe, warm, introspective, and respectful of the experience. As such, Breaks In The Sun is the most optimistic batch of songs Shearer has written to date.
Also to note, this record showcases an even higher realm of collaboration for WEINLAND; pianist Paul Christensen wrote the music for “Piano Hymn” and co-wrote the music for “Piano Interlude” and the title track “Breaks in the Sun.”
In the current economic climate independent musicians around the country are struggling to make ends meet and keep the proverbial wheels turning, WEINLAND included... The band, all having quit or lost their jobs after 2008’s touring season, faced difficult choices in the decision to release this record. After much thought and careful consideration, the band cashed out their 401(k)’s, emptied their bank accounts, and put everything they had into making sure Breaks In The Sun would see the light in 2009.