Parts Unknown (Cravedog Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Portland by way of Los Angeles (and originally from Montreal) singer/songwriter Warren Pash had success in Los Angeles with his No. 1 hit "Private Eyes," which he wrote for Daryl Hall and John Oates. But, he was looking for more. He wanted an environment where he could be free to play with different musical styles and feel as if there was a community of musicians around him. He found that in Portland, and after becoming keyboardist for Fernando y Los Cochinos, where he met up with fellow bandmate and the all around talent of Luther Russell, Warren began work on a laid back, soul-ish folk album.
The disc consists mainly of Warren Pash on lead vocals, backing vocals, guitars, keyboards, harp, and some percussion and Luther Russell handling various things like: backing and harmony vocals, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, guitars, lap steel, banjo, and production. And on the opening number, "Back to Tucson," there is no question about the outcome. The music is soft and laid back, while Warren's voice is slightly dark and out of it. The light guitar dances across the song while the rhythm of the bass and drums, and the various percussion tools used, help put a soul groove into the song.
"Come Back To Me" once again demonstrates the laid back, easygoing nature of the songs Warren crafts throughout this album. But here, the rhythm and percussion instruments aren't as straightforward and in your face. Rather, this time around they stay in the background, though their stomp can still be heard and sparkles throughout the song.
"Forbidden Fruit" has an unmistakable stomp that will ring in your head. Still laid back, the song steps outside of that boundary some as the percussion chimes throughout the song and the guitar, and a few lead guitar riffs, take charge and make sure they're heard. Warren's guitar and voice fight for your attention, and in doing so help to add a rougher edge to the song not found on some of the other tracks.
Then there is "Chasing the Dragon," a soulful, stomping number about an addict and life through his eyes. The percussive stomp grows to an all-time high on this number, beating and pounding in your head, despite the fact that Warren's low-key, dark voice keeps the song on the quieter side of the scale. The chorus invites some pop into the mix, hooking you from the moment they move from the verse to the chorus. One of the album standouts, it's irresistible, much like the substances that hook the addict in the story.
Ending with a quiet, mainly acoustic guitar number (Luther Russell sprinkles in some organ grinder, buddha-bell, and harmonyx) that lasts over five minutes, you're given time to reflect on the album while they give you another song to chew on. It's dimly lit, dark alley feel may come off as depressing to some, but the light at the end of the tunnel glow and optimism of "One Step At A Time" helps end the album on an up note. This, despite the fact the song carries itself in a dark, depressing way.
Warren Pash and Luther Russell are quite the songwriting team as PARTS UNKNOWN clearly displays. The glamour and rags-to-riches promises of Hollywood are gone as Warren Pash crafts an album as dark, rainy, and beautiful as his new surroundings in Portland, Oregon. The album has depression, hope, and life breathing from every note. Try this one on and see if you like it. I'll give it an A-.