Album Review: Wren – Stitch an Ocean
Seattle-based singer songwriter Wren brings a wonderfully addictive style of folk music to our ears. Her melodies are rich and her voice even a richer kind of sweetness. The songs are all a joy in their own way, taking the sounds of traditional music and keeping them moving with just the right dose of optimism and perseverance.
The opener “It’s Raining” doesn’t sound like a rainy day song. It’s the story of dealing with life’s metaphorical struggles and making a way despite all of that. It’s also a song that highlights both Wren’s writing as well as a perfectly-timed fiddle part. By the time “Sea Calls” enters your ears, you’ve already dropped your heart rate a few beats. To say the album is cathartic is an understatement.
One thing you might be thinking is that a relaxing album means you can “check out” or put it in the background, but I really wouldn’t advise that for this album. Instead, I urge you to give it a serious listen. The stories on tracks like “Hand-Sewn Ocean” encourage you to listen carefully. It’s so vivid, at times, that you can smell the sea salt.
“Strong Ones,” a piano-driven song, won my heart almost immediately. Wren’s vocals are strong as always, but something about the piano conjured images of church pianos from my past. The story and adventure felt appropriately thoughtful without being overly zealous in emotionalism. (You know what I mean… those songs that are just so cheesy you can’t feel anything. This isn’t like that. It’s genuine in tugging on heartstrings.)
“The Road You Thought You Knew” reminds me of a poem or some other sort of artistic composition that is just a little more sophistication than I can follow. I just know I like the melody and the familiar Lilith Faire style of the writing. It’s certainly a traditional folk vibe brought into relationship with some sounds that feel very much like the 1990s.
“Same Hat” and “Dandelion” feel like conflicted relationship songs. While both are engaging in their own ways, “Dandelion” feels a bit more traditional. The mandolin accents bring just a touch of mountain music flavor that really works nicely with the album. It makes me wonder what Wren’s songwriting might look like with a tad more immersion in that mountain sound. There’s definitely a PNW folk flavor through the album that soothes the listener.
Admittedly there are two songs with Spanish lyrics, which I cannot help decipher. The last track on the album, though, jumps back to English with “When Happiness Comes.” I think even if it was in Spanish, though, I’d know it was an upbeat song. It’s about getting over a breakup and making things work after it. It’s a sort of semi-tragic song about what it means to make it through the rough times. It’s deeply human and extremely valuable in that way.
This is a fun little album that captivates in a number of important ways. I hope that people will give it the serious listen it deserves. Wren’s songwriting is at its best when it makes us all feel something about what it means to be human; that is to say all the fiddle and mandolin accents are nice, but at the end of the day these are just really nice songs about universal subjects. Give her a listen and find yourself “walking along feeling grateful.”