Wino – Forever Gone Review

Scott “Wino” Weinrich is at a point in his lengthy and influential music career where he can do pretty much anything he wants. He can cut more albums with his seminal doom act, The Obsessed, or perform with that other seminal doom act, Saint Vitus. He might even pursue collaborations with a who’s who of musicians as he did with Dave Grohl in Probot and with German dark folk artist Conny Ochs. Another option would be to record an album of stripped down, bare bones acoustic Americana rock. It seems as Wino ages, his heart gravitates back to that final option more and more. Forever Gone is his second solo acoustic venture1, and it features 4 songs that appeared on his Wino & Conny Ochs releases. With only 7 original tracks, this may not be a completely new album, but hey, it’s Wino so it matters. And it’s exactly what you would expect from a Wino release. Heartfelt, authentic, no nonsense folk rock from a man with a very lived in soul and many stories to tell. What more do you need?

If you loved Adrift and/or his releases with Conny Ochs, you’ll be right at home on Forever Gone. Most tracks are just the man and his acoustic guitar, presented without studio polish or artifice, showcasing Wino in much the same way that the American albums presented Johnny Cash. Wino’s voice sounds as it always does – gritty yet warm, seasoned by long years spent searching and struggling with life. He’s like the Wilie Nelson of metal these days, his very existence comforting and greatly appreciated. Opener “Forever Gone” is a carryover from the second Conny Ochs collaboration, Freedom Conspiracy, and it sounds just as good here. It’s melancholic and downcast, like saying a final goodbye to an old friend, but there’s a world weary resolution and stoicism behind the bleakness. “Taken” is an album high point, introducing restrained, forlorn electric guitar alongside the acoustic strumming as Wino tells tales of personal loss and hurt in what could almost be a country western ballad from the 50s. It’s sullen and emotional and you feel the weight of it all through Wino’s weathered crooning. “The Song’s at the Bottom of the Bottle” also sits in this sweet spot where Wino excels, providing an anthem to the downtrodden and estranged.

Another highlight is the powerful “Lavender and Sage” where Wino cuts lose vocally and drives a good song to that next level through sheer passion and charisma. The dark but addicting “Was is Shall Be” also hooks you in, flirting with a Led Zepplin vibe as it flows along unhurriedly. “Crystal Madonna,” one of my favorite songs from the Conny Ochs collaborations, makes a welcome appearance, slightly reworked but no less powerful and heartbreaking, and things wind out with a cover of Joy Division’s “Isolation,” the only song to feature percussion (courtesy of Clutch drummer, Jean-Paul Gaster). This one is especially interesting, including an inspired electric guitar jam that could have appeared on a Spirit Caravan opus. With the previously released tracks all proven winners, only new selection “You’re So Fine” falls flat, feeling too cheesy, cheery and silly for Wino to put across effectively.

What else can be said about Wino as a musician at this point in his career? He’s inspired legions of doom and stoner acts and he’s a founding father in the U.S. doom scene. He’s always had a unique, recognizable voice, and time has not diminished it. He sounds vital and strong and his voice ages like leather, conveying more feeling and gravitas than most singers could even dream of. His acoustic guitar work is lovely and when he really gets after it on the axe as he does on “Isolation,” it’s a fuzzed out riot that would make Jimi Hendrix sit up and take note. Most importantly, he can still make you feel something via simple, honest songcraft, and that’s an art I fear is becoming lost in our modern, tech-saturated world.

Forever Lost is exactly what you expect from Wino and a fine addition to his impressive catalog of musical accomplishments. I’m giving this what may seem a surprisingly low score, but that’s because this is a mix of new and previously released material, a cover, and one fairly big misfire. If this was all new material we’d be looking at a higher score, so if you’re a fan of Americana and unfamiliar with Wino’s work, add a .5 or more, since this is a great introduction to what he’s all about. Until next time, Mr. Wino. Be well and keep being your badass legendary self.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Ripple Music
Releases Worldwide: June 26th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. The first being 2010s excellent Adrift.
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