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Colorado Spring’s Westrock released their debut album Welcome to the River, a joyous collection of country folk, late last year and its measured optimism is a much needed salve for our times. It’s a concept album of sorts as the songs are all loosely connected around stories of individuals who enjoy the great outdoors, celebrating the lives of those who work or just prefer to spend their free time outside. The five-piece band puts their own spin on the Red Dirt country genre with a Heartland sensibility that focuses on honest vignettes of individual lives to which their audience can immediately relate.
The lyrics of the title track “Welcome to the River” sums up the album’s mission statement perfectly: “The sun is hot and the water’s cold, we’re here to have a good time.” Elsewhere, the group dedicates songs to portraits like the melancholy, bittersweet “Hannah Jayne” to the fun, playful “Cowgirl from Bruneau.” A key recurring word here is “adventure,” as the band catalogs not just the outdoor life, but the memories, lessons, and important life moments remembered forever. Welcome to the River is a very important reminder of the potential for profound depth in country music, and Westrock does a fantastic job of bringing the genre back to what it’s truly about.