Dan Campbell‘s ‘side-project’ (despite feeling far greater than that particular title), Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties, has returned with the next installment of Campbell‘s fictional persona of Aaron West, through another exploration of human life.
‘Routine Maintenance’ shows us the next chapter of West‘s life as he embarks on a journey to pastures new, away from the heartache of his past and towards a hopeful, better existence.
From the jaunty opener of ‘Lead Paint And Salt Air’, we are reintroduced to the protagonist after finding “a new job out painting houses”, and, from there on in, the story unfolds. ‘Just Sign The Papers’ shows the fallout of his divorce, with some of the most sincere and crushingly sad lyrics that Campbell has penned on this record.
We continue to follow him through an arrest after getting ‘Bloodied Up In A Bar Fight’, escaping New Jersey (‘Bury Me Anywhere Else’), finding a roommate and new life in California (‘Rosa And Reseda’), joining a band and beginning to settle (‘Wildflower Honey’), to finally heading home once more in a family crisis to attend a funeral and reconnect with his loved ones over the last three tracks.
Such is the realistic, lifelike quality of West‘s quest through life, you’re left to ponder just how much of this stuff comes from the diaries of Campbell himself, or if he really is just the wonderful storyteller he presents himself to be on ‘Routine Maintenance’. His lyrics read like poetry on their own, and conjoined with beautiful fitting alternative folk, Campbell paints the picture of West‘s life like a vivid watercolour.
Musically, acoustic guitars, horns, and saxophones make up the bold undercurrent to Campbell‘s typical buoyant, unafraid, and passionate vocals. The story may take up the majority of a listener’s attention, and rightly so, but as songs, Campbell is masterful in his writing and creates a mood that delightfully accompanies the tale as if a cinematic score. From the uplifting ‘Rosa And Reseda’ to the soft, tenderness of ‘God & The Billboards’, he structurally and artistically fails to put a foot wrong, delivering in sound and story.
Poignant and poetic, whilst captivatingly page-turning, Campbell‘s author-like depiction of Aaron West succeeds gracefully, both musically and narratively, on his second chapter. Routine Maintenance’ is the follow-up that fans would’ve wanted, and leaves West‘s story with much more to be told.