Americana/blues-rock artist Nancy Wenstrom recently released a new album, Inside Story, via her artist-run label WCM Records.
Co-produced by Wenstrom and Joel Jaffe, the album was recorded prior to, and during, the pandemic at San Francisco’s Studio on the Hill.
Wenstrom explains, “Recording for the LP started just before the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 and was finished for release in 2021. I chose the title, ‘Inside Story,’ because of the shutdown due to the pandemic, but also because the songs are a reflection of my own inside story. It starts with the song ‘California Love’ which depicts the early years of traveling as a child with my parents and living all over the USA. My love for the California redwoods inspired the album artwork and nature is a reoccurring theme throughout. The songs go on to tell of loves found and lost, the heartache of letting go and moving on, strengths and wisdom gained, and eventually gratitude for the precious gifts received throughout the journey. Each song was chosen because it was inspired by a pure emotion, be it a struggle, heartfelt love, a longing, or just a simple feeling of delight.”
Appearing on the album with Wenstrom (vocals, guitars) are Joel Jaffe (pedal steel, backing vocals, slide guitar, percussion), Marc Levine (bass), Billy Johnson (drums), Hardy Hemphill (piano, harmonica, organ), Billy Truitt (piano, accordion), and Vikki Lee (backing vocals).
Wenstrom started playing piano at age 8, adding guitar to her repertoire when she was 12. An “Air Force brat,” she lived all over the place, including Nebraska, California, Alabama, Washington D.C., Texas, and the Azores. After studying at UC Berkeley, she pursued the artistic lifestyle of a professional musician.
Along with being the lead guitarist for the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra, she’s shared the stage with Bob Weir, Chris Isaak, Grace Slick, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Norton Buffalo, Maria Muldaur, and Mark Hummel, as well as opening for Huey Lewis, Joe Cocker, and Elvin Bishop.
Embracing 10-tracks, entry points on the album include “Alabama Song,” with its drawling country flavors, gentle rhythm, and Wenstrom’s redolent voice. A personal favorite, “Vintage Tears” blends cool savors of Americana with SoCal soft, country rock. Glowing harmonies give the tune a nostalgic feel as Wenstrom’s delicious timbres imbue the lyrics with melancholy.
Riding growling blues-rock guitars, “Dr. Rhythm” pumps out tasty layers of potent Americana-rock. Hints of boogie-woogie and gospel aromas inject the tune with alluring energy, especially the dazzling piano. On “Lucky Me Lucky You,” Wenstrom’s velvety voice infuses the lyrics with marvelous quixotic timbres.
Teeming with luscious, blues-laced tangs, along with oozing Americana-rock textures, Inside Story parades the indisputable talent of Nancy Wenstrom.