This Saturday, The Wild Reeds will be releasing Blind and Brave. Last month, the title track was shared widely, and the gorgeous, dreamy tune has raised expectations of the California indie-folk quintet’s forthcoming album.
Let’s be honest – often times when a band releases a single, it’s usually the best track on the album while the entire compilation disappoints and lacks cohesion. “Blind and Brave” is the best song on The Wild Reeds‘ “debut”, as it masterfully integrates the atmospheric vibe of the ’70s LA music scene with indie folk and choral pop textures, and the harmonies provided by Kinsey Lee, Sharon Silva, and Mackenzie Howe are soothing and (a)rousing. Listening to the song is like coming home from a hard day at work and seeing your loved ones greet you at the door – an event that brings a smile to your face (much like the video). The rest of the album…
…is also extremely satisfying – actually it is an excellent album. If the title track is akin to coming home from work, the album is a weekend spent at the cottage or anywhere that allows you to escape. And this is where you should hear the album – sitting near the lake, around a campfire, or in your favourite chair with loved ones close by. It is the perfect summer album to play as the sun sets and the moon reveals its face.
Blind and Brave is not just another indie-folk album – it is a thoughtful, cohesive album that pays tribute to the evolving sound of the genre. In addition to the title track, “Where I’m Going” and “Let No Grief” fall more on the indie-folk side, as the band – which originally was an acoustic-folk trio – incorporates more bass, organ, and percussion to create a more expansive, stirring sound. This new approach complements the beautiful three-part harmonies of Lee, Silva, and Howe, and one could argue it accentuates their voices by compelling them to sing across a wider range. The results are stunning, spectacular, and beautiful. Even on “Foreigner”, where the instrumentation is quieter and less apparent, the fuller sound creates a vital extra layer to the complex storyline – about not fully understanding oneself and what possibly could lie beneath the exterior.
The fuller sound isn’t limited to these dreamy numbers. “Lock and Key”, which closes the album, is an upbeat tune that will have people swaying. It is the one tune that leans more towards folk-pop with its boppy beat before transitioning into an ending that is contemplative and focused on the harmonies.
Whereas these tracks have the atmospheric quality of today’s indie folk, tracks such as “Of All Dreams” and “Love Letter” are great homages to the traditional folk music of Woody Guthrie and The Carter Family. Focused on the songwriting and voices of the three women members, the instrumentation does not go beyond the subtle plucks of the banjo, guitar, and the occasional bass. And like great folk music, the songs are personal stories and experiences meant to connect with the listener, which is an art not well mastered by many.
Blind and Brave, though, also extends beyond songs that make you smile or put you in a dream-like state. “Judgement” and “When I Go” are darker, haunting numbers. The former is about one seeking forgiveness, and the heavy stand-up bass and the hallowing voices of Lee, Silva, and Howe create an eerie feeling. The latter is a melancholic song about life and death that is sung over top a banjo to create a hymnal feel.
If you’re curious what the band sounded before it expanded into a five-piece band, “Recognize” is the best example, as the three-part harmonies drive the song and are supported by an acoustic guitar and at the very end the hints of an organ can be heard.
With expectations met on their debut album and indie stardom awaiting them, The Wild Reeds must now contend with the heightened hopes of fans and critics moving forward. But if history is evidence of anything, the band has shown that it can adapt and develop new sounds. Led by the harmonies and songwriting of Kinsey Lee (vocals/banjo), Sharon Silva (vocals/guitar), and Mackenzie Howe (vocals/guitar/banjo) and supported by the deft touches of Nick Jones (drummer) and Nick Phakpiseth (bass), the future is extremely bright for the young California band. Don’t be surprised to see them at festivals later in the year and next year, including the prestigious Newport Folk Festival (I’m saying it now).
Blind and Brave comes out on Saturday, August 9, and the band will be celebrating the album release with a show and party at West Hollywood’s The Troudabour. If you’re in the area, catch this band in this very intimate setting before they will be headlining the Wiltern. Tickets are still available. Get them here.
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