These words from “Long Way Home” sum up Lean Into the Wind, the sophomore release from Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray. Opener “Drifter’s Compass” serves as the perfect metaphor for setting your own course, one defined only by an inner muse. For these two artists, the muse is a shared one and obviously each other.
Such is the story of Lean Into the Wind. Written and recorded during a year of uncertainty and distraction, the result is a collection of songs that both eulogize and exorcise such turmoil. The weariness bleeds through on “Sure as Hell,” as does the defiant nature of the band (which includes drummer Ben Tufts) and of soldiering on at any cost.
Now calling the California foothills home, the untamed wild echoes throughout Lean Into the Wind on songs like “Coyote” and the animalistic “Destruction Story.” The state’s fabled late ’60s/early ’70s sound is deeply embedded in the album, from the glorious harmonies on the Stones-ish ballad, “Blue Dream,” to the nightmare of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” coming true on “When the Pump Runs Dry.”
Yet the album’s spiritual center point resides in Chicago, the named duo’s former mailing address. Referenced by name in the elegiac “Oh, Tornado” and alluded to in the toothy, sugar coated grin of the politically pointed “Election Year Blues,” the city is both a font of memories and symbol of the machinations of the modern world where outsiders must conform or flee. Choosing the latter, the bluesy rocker “Bleed Me” is tale of escapism to parts south and east, before landing in Texas on the pulpy torch song, “Lone Star Souvenir.”
We are searching for our song
Across the painted mountain tops
Lonely song that never stops
It burns inside me
Drives my wildly
Home may be the road or a pit stop along the way, but one can find their own song if they just listen. Any self-doubt Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray may still harbor should be cast into the wind of the album’s title. Lean Into the Wind is a landmark achievement, a triumphant document of the human spirit’s capacity for sacrifice and survival.