Country Western Blues for storytellers
With the relatively recent release of Where The Water Tastes Like Wine on consoles, it seems like a great time to take a look at the soundtrack of the narrative game. Masterminded by Ryan Ike but featuring dozens of live performers, this is a country-western rodeo collection that wears its heart on its sleeve.
The music falls into several different categories but the first one I want to talk about is the acoustic guitar and banjo led instrumentals. Tracks like ‘Breathe the Black’ are steeped in classical folk music but could easily feel like they could be an acoustic Metallica song at times too. It is that passion, drive and complex layering of acoustic instruments that set the bar so high for the soundtrack from the outset. Other tracks pull more from the Native American side of music from a percussion sense such as ‘Curandera’ or they go full hillbilly like ‘Rail Hoppin”. Each track is full of vibrant sound and colour.
The next category of music is blues. These often focus on vocal performances such as the gospel power of ‘Tear It Down’ or ‘Soulsucker Blues’. These blues also transgress into some instrumental jazz tracks too that could replace any ragtime jaunt in a saloon. What I really enjoyed where is that each voice feels like its part of the story. When you hit the final track ‘Heavy Hands’, different voices have said their piece but also made their peace. That happens lyrically but also sonically too.
Readers will know I love game arrangements and this is where the final category comes into play – Vagrant Song. The Vagrant Song has five different iterations, one for each location on your travel. ‘Appalachia’ could be a barn jig whereas ‘Deep South’ is a country-folk ballad and meditation. ‘Midwest’ brings out the dulcimers for a bard styled version of the track. ‘Southwest’ brings out the mariachi with Latin guitars and trumpets galore. The diverse arrangements are fantastic. These songs are also all available on the soundtrack as instrumentals too and that gives you an alternative feel to each track.
What the music does so well, just like the game itself, is tell a story. I feel like I’m travelling across a dusty America, trying my luck and listening to tales on the way. I’m not usually one for country music but Ryan Ike has balanced that with fusions of jazz, folk, Latin and Native sounds beautifully. It constantly rearranges the musical palette and offers you surprise after surprise. So if you find yourself wanting to take to the road and have a gritty country trawl – Where the Water Tastes Like Wine will be the perfect companion piece.
Recommended track: Vagrant Song (Midwest Instrumental Version)
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