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Let Me Die in Southern California

I first heard of The Voyces a few years ago, the label having included their then relatively new album, Kissing Like It's Love, with a requested Linda Draper EP and like I do when I am overloaded, I gave it a cursory listen and buried it in a stack of CDs to be perused when time permitted. To be fair, there was a deadline on the Draper EP review and Kissing Like It's Love was not exactly a new release--- not in street terms--- and I had not set up Rock & Reprise yet, which is no excuse, but...

Sometimes it seems that my life is overloaded with buts, but allow me to rectify that--- at least, in this case. When I finally uncovered that CD, I was a bit bowled over by what I heard. Brian Wurschum, Head Voyce, had not only written some fine soft rock tunes but had produced it (with ample help from Alex Nizich) with deft touch. I mean, these guys are called for a reason and the voices dominated. Soft, smooth and immaculate. Two tracks knocked me on my keister without even trying--- the semi-majestic Call It Home with its flowing melody and outstandingly stacked background harmonies and the semi-folk/psych The Canyon Ladies, which dropped some fine psych guitar over The Voyces' trademark voices and dropped me somewhere between 1968 and the present, thank you very much. The rest of the album was solid in a soft folk/rock vein, but those two grabbed my ears and never let go. When I set up this site, I promised myself that when they released their next album (which turned out to be Let Me Die in Southern California), I would listen and report.

Well, I have listened and here is my report: The Voyces have done it again. They pick up where they left off with Kissing, the songs solid folk and soft rock and written with that Wurschum touch. I thought, Kissing, Part Two? I played the two albums back to back to make sure I wasn't missing anything and damned if it doesn't sound like the tracks could be from the same sessions, and yet..... To this day, I haven't figured out whether it is the sequencing of tracks or the songwriting or my sometimes rearranged brain cells, but Let Me Die seems a bit more cohesive (Does it matter? It must, or I wouldn't be mentioning it). The songs seem to flow from one to the other a bit more smoothly and there is a bit more maturity in the structure of both songs and album. I think.

The songs? Ah, the songs. They belong in Southern California, the sanctuary of everything soft rock. Melody thrives in that region, as does harmony and production and each and every track on Let Me Die is lawn chair-ready. Listening is like sitting on the beach with drink in hand and watching the sun set. No, it isn't surf, it's just smooth and harmonious and at times downright stunning in its simplicity.

While I grasp at straws searching for the words which would make you at least check them out, I am struck by the songwriter who is Brian Wurschum. While The Voyces are indeed a band and function solely as that entity, Wurschum is the engine which drives the truck. He sings lead and harmony (when not handing that chore over to femme vox Jude Kastle), writes and assumingly handles the arrangements, not surprisingly as unpretentious and direct as the songs. He IS The Voyces and yet he is not. There is something in the way the band is presented which makes me think that without the other members of the band, he would not be who he is--- that he would not be Brian Wurschum, musician, but simply Brian Wurschum, human being. That concept of group is part of what makes The Voyces who they are, or maybe it should be, what IT is. It is, to my ears, that concept which makes the sound. And it is the sound that makes the album. What can I say? The Voyces sound good. 'Nuff said.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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