Published Apr 23, 2019The members of Trade Wind do play in other noteworthy bands, but to call the group a side project is doing a disservice. Stick to Your Guns vocalist Jesse Barnett, Stray from the Path guitarist Tom Williams, End drummer Andrew McEnaney and producer Randy LeBoeuf create variegated rock music that frames their creative and personal connections and struggles. Certain Freedoms, the group's third and longest effort, denotes a pointed, expressive fruition for the band. The 12-song LP reduces into more tuneful sonic space than ever before in their catalogue.
Opener "Surrender" is an immediately surprising shift, as Williams' guitar work is more textured and spacious than what one might expect from the louder Deftones worship of their first EP. The tone is shaky, but colourful, following suit with Barnett's hushed singing, recalling a tranquil interim of a Mac DeMarco and Jimmy Eat World cut. First single "No King But Me" is a catchy elegy of self-worth, a compromise of old and new. The guitars sparkle gorgeously — its solo much louder, though — and McEnaney's drums are pointed as ever, but do not overwhelm.
Barnett's dexterity shines throughout the LP, but is best flaunted on the title track. In the song's soaring chorus, he confronts a peer about making sacrifices in the present for a fulfilling future of clarity. Below Barnett's musical life lessons are snaps, claps and transitory piano parts that make for an alluring experience.
The middle section of Certain Freedoms follows suit. Interlude "Moonshot" is a quirky confessional over airy guitar tones, and following tune "How's Your Head?" offers a brooding commentary over John Mayer-esque guitar layers about the ups-and-downs of friendship and loyalty.
The imagery of Certain Freedoms sews together anecdotes of loss, empathy and connections with loved ones. The conclusive "Nashinga" is a chilling tribute to Barnett's late dog that flows between melancholy and twinkling passages. It is a little abrupt and feels almost finished, a testament to the way life coming to an end can sometimes be. A venture created out of lust born for rampant imagination and heart-on-sleeve vulnerability, Certain Freedoms is a triumph of sombre repose and musical expression. (Other People)