If you like pop folk music, you need to hear this album from Wild Skies. I absolutely adore their sound and harmonies. It’s a delicious and addictive pop folk style that keeps me coming back for repeated listens.
The album opens with “Fumes and Faith,” a song that’s sort of what you imagine country music could be. The instrumentation isn’t inherently different than mainstream country music, but the end product is so much more fulfilling. It just feels like legit friends standing around singing about what it’s like to push through hard times in life. It’s got a “down home” feel, all while keeping a polished veneer.
“Stay Here Now” is one of those songs that blends genres really well. It is mostly folk, sure, but it has a heavy gospel base to it that really works. When the band starts their gang vocal “take me away” on the chorus… whew, it’s hard not to envision a great cloud of witnesses. This is a fabulous track!
“Please Take Me Back” is a wonderful narrative folk song that pulls the listener right in. The lead vocal has the right kind of believability. You just want to hear what he says about the world. The harmonies come out sounding like The Head and the Heart, which is high praise. The following “Black Water” then takes a different stance on things, feeling a bit darker and soulful. The bluesy chords and powerful female lead work together for something dusky and evocative. The “ohhhs” in their twisting minor keys put me immediately in mind of The Civil Wars. Phenomenal.
“Spokane” is maybe the most representative example of the Wild Skies’ sound. It has some of that folksy charm as well more of a country root. The way the sounds layer and fold feels a bit like drinking whiskey when you know you have to get up for work the next day. You know you should just go to bed, but one more drink is just right. Whether it’s the optimistic vocal harmonies or the delightful waltz timing, the song makes me want to have one more (in the best way possible).
“Carry On” takes a positively pop turn compared to the rest of the album. It’s a nice hand-clap laden jam with some deceptively complicated acoustic guitar work. Ultimately the lyrics send a message of perseverance and enduring life’s hardships together. It’s a wonderfully positive tune.
I can’t say I’m surprised to hear a song like “Heaven Help Us” on this album. It opens with a great harmony vocal and rolling acoustic fingerpicking line. It’s maybe my favorite track on the album, though, for the way that it all coalesces into a moment. It’s about supporting each other in love and the positive vibes are exactly what we collectively need.
The final track “On My Mind” brings it back to the bluesy basis from earlier. The message of the song stays with the album’s theme of hope and togetherness. The lyrics integrate biblical and down home wisdom for something that feels timeless. I’d love to hear this one, especially the organ solo, in person. Maybe some day.
This album, all told, is excellent. It’s the kind of music that drew me to become a music blogger in the first place. They remind me of bands like Post Script, Jus Post Bellum, and Native Sibling who we’ve covered here in the past. We don’t really do star ratings or anything around here, but this is a “must own” for serious fans of pop folk music.