Darling West decamped for a tiny island on Norway’s west coast to begin writing what was to become Cosmos, their fifth studio album. For the first time, the band’s core – married couple Mari and Tor Egil Kreken – have included band members Thomas Gallatin and Christer Slaaen in the songwriting and production process. As a larger united, Darling West has really evolved. Cosmos is indeed the sound of expansion.
West coast, cosmic folk, americana… Call it what you will – there are even hints of afro blues on here – but where the band once fit firmly in the folk/americana category, you might as well just call it pop these days.
Cosmos was recorded and produced in its entirety by Darling West. Vocal guests on the album include Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) and Jarle Bernhoft, while David Wallumrød, Lars Horntveth and Torjus Vierli all excel on keys. Finally, the one and only Rob Moose (Paul Simon, Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers) provides strings on “Till Night Turns to Day” and “Old Man”.
The listener is also awarded plenty of what we’ve come to love from Darling West: Mari Kreken’s gorgeous voice and Tor Egil Kreken’s incredibly versatile playing (guitar, bass, banjo, etc.) playing. The sum of these parts makes up a magical record, with songs and melodies that will stay on your mind for the unforeseeable future.
While many struggled to keep their heads up during the pandemic, the band did their best to contribute positively, and came out on the other side with a growing, dedicated fanbase, due to their incredibly popular “Family Sessions” on Youtube. A recurring concept where they featured a host of friends and other artists, thus creating a community – or family – which is still going strong.
The music on Cosmos searches outward, while the lyrics look inward. The resulting record includes elements of pop, while it pushes the envelope for what Norwegian americana can sound like. Cosmos is also about loving yourself, and there are of course a handful of love songs about shaky relationships – as we’ve come to expect from Darling West.
The band continues to develop their unique musicianship and Cosmos is indeed another masterstroke from the band.