TW Walsh has a long list of credits to his name. Not only was he the only official member in Pedro the Lion besides frontman David Bazan, but he formed another project called The Soft Drugs in 2006. Aside from being a talented singer-songwriter, he has accumulated a lengthy discography as a producer. In 2011 alone he has mastered over 40 EP and LPs. It’s amazing that he found the time to write, record and release a new album, this time under his own name.
Songs of Pain and Leisure is his first solo album since 2001’s Blue Laws, and you can feel the personal approach in his lyrics. He produced a set of stripped-down, heartbreaking songs that could be listened to over and over and still reveal intricate parts that weren’t noticed during the first listen.
The album opens with the fast-paced “Make it Rhyme,” which like all the tracks on the album, features Walsh behind every instrument. The sparse mixing initially lets you know that every instrument got its fair share of attention, and if you wanted to, you’d be able to focus solely in on the guitar, drum or bass. The beauty behind the opening track, and every track for that matter, is that you don’t have to pick and choose. The instruments and Walsh’s vocals truly blend together to make one harmonious sound.
Walsh gives a range of tempo and emotion, guiding the listener through the highs and lows, but it doesn’t feel forced and flows together naturally. Certain songs will highlight Walsh and his acoustic guitar while others will be like the opening track, filled with interesting riffs and breakdowns that will please casual listeners as well as veteran producers and musicians.
“Plant a Garden” is a stand-out on Pain and Leisure with an alt-country and blues feel that is reminiscent of his earlier works and has a real rolling rhythm to it. A similar sound is presented on “Build Me a Ballpark;” only this time it has a driving bass line that leans on the funk side of blues than other songs on the album.