Australian singer-songwriter Wesley Dean is what one would call an adventurous artist
Granted, his music finds a fit within an Americana imprint, but his desire to succeed and leave his native country following his victory on Australian Idol was a courageous move by any measure. He had already achieved a following in his native country, so the fact that he was willing to brave the unknown and attempt to make a name an entire world away in Nashville took a great degree of courage and commitment.
Then again, Dean’s been tendering a a career since early on. He began singing at the age of eight and by the time he was 14, he had moved to Sydney and found success on the local pub scene. From there, he graduated to such prestigious stages as the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne’s Palais Theatre. In the process, he acquired a recording contract and scored success with his debut album. Nevertheless, domesticity beckoned and at that point, he decided to move to Australia’s Sunshine Coast and raise a family.
Nevertheless, the lure of making music brought him back to the biz, and he recommitted himself to pursuing his muse. His decision to to move to Nashville meant abandoning the life he left behind.
“One of the biggest changes of my life was when I moved at 14 from my longtime home of Adelaide to Sydney,” he recently recalled. “I hated leaving everything I knew, including the simple life of growing up in the suburbs of Adelaide. But I knew if I had stayed my life as an artist wouldn’t exist today, and I’m sure If it wasn’t for that time, I wouldn’t be in Nashville now.”
Wesley Dean Unknown, Hall of Flames LLC 2022
Dean chronicles his singular story on Unknown, a set of both tendered tenacious songs that shares his desire, determination and the uncertain encounters that dogged him along the way. “Leave Adelaide Behind,” “Never Thought of You,” “Is Anyone Alive?,” “Hello, I Love You, Goodbye,” and the title track (which includes a soundbite of the farewell to his family) detail Dean’s journey. Each track underscores his decisive delivery. His parched vocals combine with a series of steady, straight-ahead melodies that effectively reinforce his ready resolve. Given those attributes, it’s hardly surprising that a song like “Gateway 7” finds him encroaching on Tom Petty territory. So too, the expressive piano ballad “Where Only You and I Remain” brings to mind one of Billy Joel’s more eloquent offerings.
“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” makes for an especially apt example.
That said, Dean is also adept at blending resolve and reflection in equal measure, as the darker designs of “Pages,” “Eleven One” and “Never Going Back to the Darkside” easily attest. Dean pulls no punches, and the optimism expressed in a song such as “That’s Why I’m Here” is sometimes obscured by those starker scenarios.
Regardless, contrary to its title, Unknown is a bold effort and one that ought to find him making an emphatic imprint in his new environs. With any luck at all, Unknown will gain all the attention it deserves.
Artist: Wesley Dean
Label: Hall of Flames, LLC
★★★★ (4/5 stars)