Wesley Dean – ‘Unknown’ Review: The Australian singer-songwriter delivers his best work yet.
Wesley Dean has had quite the career so far. In 2008 he entered ‘Australian Idol’, under the name Wes Carr, and went on to win the series but shortly before appearing on the show he released his debut album ‘Simple Sun’. His ‘Australian Idol’ win catapulted him to fame and his 2009 album ‘The Way The World Looks’ produced the number one smash ‘You’. Two more albums followed – 2013’s ‘Roadtrip Confessions’ and 2018’s ‘Australiana’ – and in 2020 Dean decided to release music as Wesley Dean and underwent a transformation musically.
That same year he relocated from Australia to Nashville to pursue his music dreams, dropping plenty of singles along the way including ‘Are You Gonna Save My World’ and ‘Gypsy’.
Last week Dean unveiled his fifth album ‘Unknown’, his first in four years, and across the 14 tracks it’s evident that the move to Nashville has helped him discover his sound. The album is more organic than what fans will have heard before and vocally Dean has never sounded better. Opening track ‘Leave Adelaide Alone’ sets the scene perfectly as Dean sings about leaving Adelaide to pursue his dreams. It’s a radio-friendly slice of Country rock that starts the record on a high and allows Dean to wow you with his soaring voice.
The strength of ‘Unknown’ is in its variety. This isn’t one of those records where one song runs into the next and you barely notice. Each one of the songs here feels purposeful and earns its place; there’s no filler in sight. From the midtempo laidback groove of ‘Never Thought Of You’ through to the stirring and emotive closing track ‘Unknown’, Dean showcases what he’s capable of as an artist and he leaves no stone unturned. On standout moment ‘Anxiety’, Dean is candid about mental health and trying to keep one step ahead of it rather than succumbing to its call.
Elsewhere on the record ‘Gaslighter’ opens with a harmonica solo and it’s one of the more commercial-leaning moments on the record. I could imagine this working as a duet with Sheryl Crow as it brings to mind her early work. ‘Hello, I Love You, Goodbye’ features a driving beat backing Dean as he sings about the passage of time, ‘Never Goin’ Back to the Darkside’ is a contemplative moody slice of defiance, and ‘Where Only You and I Remain’ leans into a 70s rock sound that fits Dean like a glove. ‘Eleven One’, recorded live, finds Dean channelling Leonard Cohen and it’s a fantastic display of what he can do in a live setting.
If you’re a fan of the likes of Kip Moore and Chris Stapleton, then you really should check out Wesley Dean. ‘Unknown’ is an album that comes from the heart and it’s a statement from an artist that knows who he is and where he’s heading. You need to spend time with the record to really dig into the different layers it contains and appreciate Dean’s impressive artistry. If anyone deserves a breakout year in 2022, it’s Wesley Dean.
- 1. Leave Adelaide Alone
- 2. Never Thought Of You
- 3. Gaslighter
- 4. Gateway 7
- 5. Pages
- 6. Anxiety
- 7. Is Anyone Alive?
- 8. Hello, I Love You, Goodbye
- 9. Never Goin’ Back to the Darkside
- 10. Eleven One (live)
- 11. Where Only You and I Remain
- 12. Time is a Tale
- 13. That’s Why I’m Here
- 14. Unknown
Record label: Hall of Flames, LLC
Release date: 29th April 2022