The Victory Review
I should write to Andrew Norsworthy’s parents and thank them for exposing him to the music of Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan, reportedly his main inspirations for picking up a guitar in the first place. Stateside is Norsworthy’s second solo release, an obtuse collection of originals interweaving philosophy, wit and personal history. He blends contemporary folk and rock styles while incorporating the voice of a beat poet, developing themes of young love, rambling, wrestling with the devil- the usual growing up and finding yourself stuff. But there is nothing mundane about the way the stories are told. Each song takes you on its own separate journey, with a clarity and presence that can reach across generations. Carefully crafted lyrics and melodies, judicious use of space and density in the arrangements, thick harmonies and rich instrumental textures make this album a standout. Norsworthy’s singing voice is strong, on pitch and true to the material. Some poignant lines from his songs include, “…in debt forever to the Big Whatever, laughing up there in the sky,” “I must have had my last drink too soon, I could have slipped under the wheels of any women in that room,” and “I went down to meet the devil of the delta, but I could not even give my soul away.” Andrew, your soul has found a good home on this CD. Congratulations on a worthy creation.
– Betsy Wellings
Stateside is good; actually it’s too good. Listening to a record from a local artist that’s putting his own material out shouldn’t sound this professional. His voice sounds warm and familiar. The lyrics remind you of a lot of the stories you have in your own witty arsenal. The beauty on his recent release is in the instrumentation behind the Middle-American tales. It’s the beautiful drum roll, the right organ swell, the familiar “nah, nah, nah.”
This album has all the swagger of a major label release and none of the marketing campaign. It actually left me taken aback for many days as to what to say. I like it, but the polish keeps me at bay. The one thing that has cemented by listening to this CD is that I need to see Norsworthy perform these tracks live. The next chance is on October 23 at Conor Byrne’s in Ballard. I have a feeling this local might become a regular on the radio.
– Nathan Walker
Three Imaginary Girls
Andrew Norsworthy’s CD Stateside brims with Mountain-fresh optimism, excellent song-writing skills, and densely-produced sound. It’s extremely proficient and safe, but not so much so that it’s uninteresting. He’s like Lyle Lovett without the curly hair/crooked nose quirk and crook. This is what they play in the movie soundtrack when the protagonist moves into his new apartment with his girlfriend, and they’re running back and forth, excited and grinning. “Where are we gonna place this bowl?” they laugh, stumbling over boxes into one another’s arms. I envison Norsworthy playing at wineries, as his presentation exudes more chardonnay than whiskey. But with his song-writing prowess, he could totally get that sensuous Austin singer-songwriter thing going, should he get a little more Lyle in his Lovett…
The Big Takeover
This troubadour has traveled extensively, growing up in Anchorage, Alaska and moving to Texas before settling in Seattle. He’s released two albums with a previous band, Joran, and this is his third solo LP.
Norsworthy’s love of Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan comes across vividly in his acoustic folk music, and the songs unfold like a series of vignettes reflecting his life experiences. He sings in a soft, breathy voice, bringing each story to life through his stark and visual words.
Think of recent, excellent solo releases from John Doe (who Norsworthy resembles) or Justin Sullivan, only with more minimal arrangements, and you’ll get a good idea of his style. This is a quiet, haunting album, one that exposes an artist’s lonely and troubled soul like few records do.
West coast folk rock. Lyrics are a bit dramatic in places but the music is so strong you really don’t care all that much. I know I’ve referred to the Canadian folk-rockers Grapes of Wrath before, and I’ll do it again here. I think it’s a high compliment. I also detected hints of California’s Scott Thomas Band. Whether Norsworthy has heard or listened to either of them is irrelevant, of course. Stateside is a mostly acoustic recording, but doesn’t play like one. It is rich with sound and Norsworthy is in total command of his voice- he knows his limitations and stays within them. There is not a weak song on the CD. One in particular, “Empire Builder,” I liked for its narrator’s self-deprecating humor- all the clichéd places a wanna-be troubadour attempts to find inspiration fail him: a “lost highway” is only “California,” he heads to New York but “couldn’t find a room to save (his) life,” then “prayed up to sweet Jesus,” but knew he’d “done all wrong.” Norsworthy’s Stateside is one of the few CDs I have reviewed that will be placed in my permanent collection. Top honors, easily.
– Mike Mitchelson