Already well into a busy touring season that includes high-profile performances from Tahoe’s Winter Wondergrass to upstate New York’s Grey Fox festival, banjo phenom Tray Wellington is back with his first new music since last summer’s acclaimed Black Banjo (Mountain Home Music Company) — and for the first time, he’s got his band with him. With plenty of performances already behind them — the group was assembled during the run-up to Black Banjo’s release — the Tray Wellington Band is a tight-knit quartet of young players who provide plenty of musical muscle to push in all the directions the versatile bandleader is intent on going.
Case in point, the new single: “Pursuit of Happiness,” a bold cover of the massive 2009 Kid Cudi hit. A deliciously creative arrangement engineered by the band — Wellington, bassist Katelynn Bohn, Josiah Nelson (mandolin, fiddle) and guitarist Nick Weitzenfeld — offers a startling revisioning of the original, transforming its electronic and processed elements into acoustic equivalents that maintain the urgency and edginess of the original in earthier tones. Wellington handles the verses’ mix of rapped and sung passages with unexpected yet unsurprising mastery, while Nelson’s and Weitzenfeld’s vocals come to the fore in memorable choruses. An extended outro features all of the vocalists, Bohn’s rumbling bowed bass, foot stomps and handclaps as the song subsides into a wistful, almost melancholy ending that accentuates the subtly somber aspects of the song.
With its organic tones, and deft alternation between complex, layered textures and more airy ones, listening to “Pursuit of Happiness” in the immersive audio format of Dolby Atmos is an especially engaging experience. Dolby Atmos spatial audio is a sound experience you can feel all around you. Familiar from its “surround sound” application in thousands of movie theaters” Dolby Atmos reveals “depth, clarity and details like never before,” and can be streamed on Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL.
“In the past couple years the importance of appreciating hip hop for the poetic art form it is has been very developmental in my musical progress,” Wellington notes. “One artist I instantly felt drawn towards when starting that journey was Kid Cudi; with his unique sense of harmony and touching lyrical style, it really spoke to me. When I heard ‘Pursuit of Happiness,’ I fell in love, as it touched on issues we all struggle with in life — and with mental health ever present in everyone’s life, the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ in today’s world is one of the most important and necessary journeys to embark on.”
Listen to "Pursuit Of Happiness" HERE.