Wesley Hartley & The Traveling Trees
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Wesley Hartley & The Traveling Trees

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF
Band Country Soul


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Wesley Allen Hartley and The Traveling Trees - Narrow Gauge Quad Trains"

Former Dead End Armory singer/guitarist Wesley Allen Hartley is leading a new group of desperados these days. The Traveling Trees are an acoustic combo that plays old-time country with hints of indie-pop.

Hartley’s high-lazy Texan twang can’t miss. Whether you care to hear him in this unplugged, non-rockin’ group after the electric and stormy Dead End Armory is the question. The answer, for the most part, is yes. Yes you do.

Hartley’s brought ex-Armory bassist Leslie Deane back to the campfire, and she lends fine backing vocals to several tracks, joined from time to time by drummer Jon Donnell and bass player Derek Reynolds. Ron Harrity (of Honey Clouds and Peapod Recordings fame) recorded most of Narrow Gauge Quad Trains at his new studio in South Portland, but there’s no evidence anyone did any producing or mastering.

That laidback approach generally suits the proceedings, but there are times when richer backing vocals or another instrument (say, a piano, or some beat-up organ) would easily bring the material up a notch.

The looser, acoustic version of “Jet Fighters” (an early Armory tune) included here was worth the second take. Hartley sounds like a cowboy Syd Barrett on the great “Slow Shards.” “Outside” is a drunken, Dylanesque sing-along, and “Shot N Shots” is one pretty chord change away from knocking off Johnny Cash.

Tear-in-your-Geary’s numbers like “Label Peel,” “Show Me Around” and “Acreless” are perfect for post-last-call reflection, but “Throwing a Duck” just wallows. “Acreless” didn’t warrant the even less-produced take tacked on at the end.

It’s good to hear Hartley anytime. Should he decide to rock again and get weird, I suppose I wouldn’t mind that, either.

— Chris Busby - The Bollard

"Arbor of song - Wesley Allen Hartley returns with Narrow Gauge Quad Trains"

By SAM PFEIFLE | July 28, 2010

Why people didn't freak out more about Dead End Armory I'll never know, and why I'm coming to frontman Wesley Allen Hartley's new project, backed by new band the Traveling Trees, almost a month after its release I'm really not sure. But wake up, people. If you've got any inclination for old-time country revivalism and the likes of Jason Molina's Magnolia Electric Company, or Bonnie "Prince" Billy maybe, then you've got to be all over Narrow Gauge Quad Trains.
Who knows whether he's earned the world-weariness in his voice, but Hartley manages to convey a timelessness and authenticity that only a few can pull off (Brown Bird's David Lamb comes to mind). Just four songs in, by "Label Peels," where he rolls syllables around in his mouth as though to see what they taste like, you have to at least consider whether he might be legitimately spectacular. Especially when it's paired with some of the best poetry going in alt-country today: "I went and wasted another month/And held it together with scotch tape/And I have been dreaming a lot these days/Oh, about nothing you would understand."
Sort of wish he didn't do that four-note walk-up at the end, though. And "Shot n Shots" is bluesy like "Folsom Prison," but it modulates into a dissonant phrasing that just doesn't sound good, bad enough to leave it off the move over to the iPod. Which is good, though, because otherwise I might be touting this guy as the next Bob Dylan, and no one wants that.
But damn if "Acreless" isn't an inventive waltz, bass on the one-beat and plenty of emotional catharsis. There's real-deal vocal work here, backed by Leslie Deane to create swooping soundscapes: "Hey, hey, hey, you can't win them all/You win them all, you lose your mind" and "You won't ever be swift/But you'll be alright." And the bluegrassy romp of "El Guasano Rojo" is a great two-minute packet of pop rocks in the middle of an album that's heavy on the caramel.
All along, the backing band of Jon Donnell on drums, Derek Reynolds on bass, and Gregg Hoover on the lap steel are rock solid — not virtuosic, but playing exactly every note necessary and not one more or less. It's definitely true that playing great music slowly is much harder than playing great music at break-neck pace.
And it's sometimes true that people dismiss this kind of slow-burn songwriting and delivery as "simple," but there's nothing easy about writing songs like these without sounding maudlin or melodramatic. Hartley avoids both and leaves you with an album that's as real as a rose bush, with the requisite thorns. - The Portland Phoenix


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Inspired from reading about Maine Painter, Marsden Hartley, as a young teenager in Splendora, TX, Wes eventually migrated to Portland, ME as an adult. He brought with him a regional musical sense that is most assuredly Texan. The Traveling Trees are the fruition of that sensibilty. With a band as strong as the songwriting, Wesley Hartley & The Traveling Trees lock in and swing easily between Slowcore and Outlaw Country.