In 2008, from the peak—or rather, one of the many peaks, and an undeniably high one at that—Kevin Garnett famously whooped to the world, with every ounce of joy, and toil, and affliction amassed in a modern life, “Anything is possible!” There was no question of, ‘If this, then why not that?’ Accomplishment had steered directly toward an affirmation: If this, then all things.
In 2018, from the valleys, Norwell’s debut album, ‘There Is Nothing That Cannot Happen To Someone,’ uses imagination to explore this more solemnly. In one’s life the spectrum of possibilities covers both good and bad, but chances are good that it’s bad. Our associations underwhelm and disappoint, reliances move from casual to habitual, familiarity with our past and current selves (or what we presume them to be) fades; the list is long. And if we’re not careful, the lives that we create for ourselves in private fare no better.
While expertly hiding her personal delight, Michele Tafoya asked what top of the world felt like. Garnett replied without an answer, alluding only to a near future of sleeplessness. Perhaps a feeling so high was too fleeting to grasp. Or perhaps simply experiencing such a place was the only appropriate answer. Similarly, in the late nights spent awake, ’There Is Nothing That Cannot Happen To Someone’ provides no solutions for what ails. Lyrically, it’s a doleful emotional exercise about what’s real and what isn’t, about who, about nothing in particular, but everything all at once. Be this self-inflicted or otherwise, there is an underlying sense of acceptance, a resignation to what can only be this way or another, knowing that limitless and endless don’t regularly end well.
As a recorded entity, digital drums and compressed audio samples pepper Norwell’s songs built around resonant keyboards and simultaneously nearby and far away vocals. Songwriter and front man Brady Schwertfeger crafts melodies with purpose and intention. No hook, no trill, no word passes through without a goal in mind, weaving with itself throughout the album. The instrumentation is as varied as the songs themselves, from unabashedly catchy, to slow burning swells, untethered by traditional structure. Make it through the heavenly minimalist organ, and a tearing guitar solo awaits you on the other side. The features, too, provide some diversity. Travelled folk artist Ira Wolf makes an appearance on the record, as does Missoula pop maven Chloe Gendrow. Their presence brings levity in heavy surroundings; there are people in this place with you, and emotional communion is a powerful operation.
As a live band, Norwell has devised a notable blend of post-rock, ethereal indie rock, and RnB with the help of local Missoula musicians and full-time multi-platform collaborators Jon Filkins and Sarah Marker (Arrowleaf), James Riach (Catamount, No Fancy), Dan Weiss (Mendelssohn), and a host of accessory players turning simple to symphony.