Some people throw around the label “folk” for the strangest things, but Those Willows use backing strings, guitars, stand up bass, and something that sounds like it might be a mandolin… and their vocals are harmonized bliss. They are a folk band, of course hailing from the Pacific Northwest. Put them on your radar; no, scratch that, put them in your earbuds.
The album begins with “Winter Skin,” an aesthetically complicated piece about uncertainty and doubt (I think?). The repeated refrain, “we could fall in love all over again – you had my heart” gives a connotation of the uncertainty of nostalgia and looking back on what could have been. But the sound really comes together nicely with the strings and the uptempo feel. It’s not really the typical jangly folk we cover around here, but it’s great.
The second track “Three Books” is legit the perfect song to play in a coffee shop or book store. Seriously it’s just groovy enough to be not the average sleepy folk song, but it’s just down tempo enough to be comfortable. It reminds me of a stroll down a country road. “I’m not quite sure, but you could mean more than anyone else has before.” What a great line! How many times have you met someone and wondered if it was going to be more… and immediately began planning all sorts of craziness. It’s a quaint, blissful little track. I like it.
“Former Life Crisis” is a smart song. It’s filled with positive vibes and colorful soundscapes. The female vocals layered over the strings are picturesque. The song has a historian’s tone, giving a narrative of something that happened in the past between two people. It’s more than a song; it’s a story of love and the past. It also holds a tangible emotional reality that I connected with immediately. It made me think of very specific situations in my own former life.
The final track comes too soon for sure. It’s called “The Noise” and is anything but noise. It’s a bit more raucous than the rest of the album, but it’s certainly well put together. The song reminds me of something out of the later Beatle years, toying with instrumentation and time signature, all while maintaining characteristically vibrant harmonies. It has a good feel and shows just how unpredictable Those Willows can be in their brilliant artistry.
This is a great little EP that will have listeners eager to visit Those Willows’ full discography. They conjure comparisons to The Postmen, The Harmaleighs, and even some vintage folk rockers like The Beatles at times. Give ‘em a spin.