Westerly Creates Vivid Imagery Through Lyrics on “Reason to Believe”

The grassroots of an acoustic folk guitar lead us into Westerly's new single: "Reason to Believe." Westerly focuses on music that celebrates right American Folk music, but by injecting modern elements, they can create rare perspectives for the music scene. "Reason to Believe" sounds like a classic from the moment you press play. Sterling Spence unleashes lead vocals that envelope you in warmth and familiarity, and the harmonic back up vocals sung by Jessica Lips, are ghostly and memorizing.

"Reason to Believe" does strike the chords of a folk melody, but the almost hip-hop-style beat the song moves along to, elevates the track into its arena. "Reason to Believe" is set to complex lyrics that don't take you down the traditional storytelling route. Instead, "Reason to Believe" paints a vivid biography of a character throughout the song. The lyrics are rich, and you can almost picture what the character looks like, what they're doing, and their current emotional state, all from the lyrics. A vision of a woman alone, struggling with her inner thoughts. From the lyrics, we can see her standing in her kitchen putting on a spot of tea, memories of her father flooding through her subconscious as she waits in silence for her tea kettle to whistle, reassuring herself with words her mother spoke: "quit your cryin, tell yourself a story about the way you wish the world was meant to be." It's rare to hear a song that makes the listener pause so intently and envision the songs subject matter so clearly; Westerly certainly has a special gift in their artistry.

Discover Westerly’s greatness for yourself and listen to “Reason to Believe” here.

Hello Westerly, and welcome to BuzzMusic! We were blown away with your new single “Reason to Believe”. The song is so complex and descriptive, how long did you spend on this project?

Hey, thank you, it means a lot that you liked it! This project was a special one for us. I wrote the lyrics quickly over a couple of days, but it took a while for the song to grow on me. I try to tell stories in my songs and this one just didn’t go anywhere. It’s about a woman who has just found out about her father’s death and she’s sitting in the kitchen letting it all soak in, then she gets up and goes on with life. That seemed so anti-climactic as a narrative. But the longer I sat with it, I started to feel like that’s all I wanted to say. That’s how loss hits me. Bad shit happens and all you can do it try to wrap your head around it and go on with life.

When I brought it to Jeff Peck (our bass player and producer), I was still unsure whether the song was worth anything. But he jumped at it and his production really gave it life. I mean, he’s astonishing. He added strings and synth and a drum beat behind it. That took about a month of work and it really changed it from a song I wanted to forget into something that I might be more proud of than almost anything we’ve put out before.

Have you found where you reside influences your sound? Do you draw inspiration from the community you are a part of?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an idea I heard from Jason Isbell that what separates the amateurs from the pro-song-writers is the ability to write compellingly about something other than yourself. The songs on our new EP really are portraits of other people, there’s not a lot of my life in there. But, when I picture the people I wrote about, they all inhabit this kind of fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area. I don’t really know why, but the songs are stories of people who drive across the Bay Bridge or walk down Telegraph Avenue or look out their window at night and see the LED screens blazing on top of the ugly Salesforce Building. So, I guess I drew a lot of inspiration from the kind of people and the kind of stories that come from the Bay.

As a band, what does the songwriting and scoring process look like for you? How do you work together to achieve a finished project?


recently moved down to LA, which means I’m 6 hours away from Jeff up in the Bay Area. So, in making this EP I had to learn to let go of the songs more than I’m usually comfortable with.

I would go up there to visit and lay down some tracks at his place. Then, I had to leave and trust his process and wait to hear what he created. I was just lucky that he’s so incredibly creative and competent. He brought in Jessica Lips, our other vocalist, and together they were able to read into my writing a direction and purpose that maybe I didn’t know was in there. Jeff laid down all these parts and would send them to me and I would send back revised vocal takes. His production highlighted feelings in the lyrics that I hadn’t entirely known were in the songs. 

Would you say you are drawn to one genre over another? How do you manage to reinvent your sound to come out unique and fresh?

Growing up, I was definitely one of those people who said, “I like all kinds of music except country.” But as I’ve tried to find my own voice in song-writing, I’m drawn more and more toward writers coming out of Nashville. There’s a long tradition of great American storytelling through music and some of its most profound artists come from country and roots music. I just really like the idea of trying to be part of that American tradition. But that being said, I think that style of song-writing informs what I’m doing but doesn’t define it. I’m learning as a writer that I can lean heavily on my influences and consider myself part of their tradition without making the same kind of music they did. I’m not making country music; I’m trying to find my own sound. I’m also learning to deeply trust my collaborators and let their influences change the sound. Because in the end, I don’t have a genre goal. I just want to write compelling songs that speak to something honest. 

Thank you for joining us Westerly, what can fans expect next from you?

Well our newest EP came out May 22nd and we always have new stuff in production so you should get fresh songs in July! Following us on Instagram and Facebook is the best way to see what we’re doing next: @westerlytheband

I’m doing a lot of acoustic videos and covers there. Hopefully when this whole pandemic is over we’ll start booking shows again and see everyone in person!