You travel alone, driving at a deserted highway. You are calm, empty of thoughts. Destination doesn’t matter. The plane landscape accentuates your loneliness. Minutes, or hours pass; time doesn’t matter either. You stop, thirsty, at a small bar, at the middle of nowhere. You have a beer or two. Without realizing, you socialize with some unknown folks; it’s that peculiar occasion, when you don’t know someone, but for an unexplainable reason, you feel them very familiar. You drink with them and you all tell stories. Time passes idly. Sunset arrives. The ritual of the seemingly unknown persons ends. You get again in your car to continue your journey.

Wino’s “Forever Gone” is the perfect companion for such a lonely road trip. The living legend of doom, ten years after his last solo album and some intermediate collaborations with Conny Ochs, becomes acoustic again to narrate stories of loneliness and wistfulness, away from the doom / heavy rock roots of The Obsessed. However, heaviness is still hidden somewhere in his nostalgic, sad themes. The album is his guitar and his voice only. An elder voice that seems tortured but mature as well; a voice that has aged well, like a rare wine that you keep in the cellar and you take only a few sips on special occasions.

“Forever Gone” is deeply personal and sincere. Through eleven full of emotions blues/country songs, Wino opens his heart, trying to relieve himself from struggles of the past. Some tracks are familiar. Indeed, half of them emerge from previous collaborations with Conny Ochs, when they were jamming together (you may remember “Heavy Kingdom”). Now, they become HIS songs. Even the cover on Joy Division's “Isolation" bears his very own mark.

Sophisticated patterns are not necessary here. Just a few simple notes, with the occasional accompaniment of a second guitar and drums, are enough. Wino sings wistfully. You hear a man who shares with you his experiences. Leave conventional thoughts aside, let this warm and tired voice touch you, feel his sadness and melancholy and fathom his way to redemption. He’s not a forefather of doom now. He’s just someone who makes songs that talk to the heart. Or is it the way he always was?

Now, am I supposed to grade such an album? How is it possible to grade a man and his guitar? No, of course not! That would be at least ridiculous. You do not rate someone who tells stories. Let’s just salute this haughty, creative personality: Scott “Wino” Weinrich from Maryland.

♦ -

Alex Nikolaidis