With their beautiful harmonies and songs that feel distinctly original, this exciting new trio has already produced one of my best-of-2017 picks.
Time: 11 tracks / 37 mins
While a female family trio that features flowing, flawless harmonies might suggest Haim, this band is completely different. Wildwood Kin are less poppy and more atmospheric. Opener “The Author” would have slotted seamlessly onto a Note for the Child album, and they come across very much as a female Fleet Foxes, with touches of Simon and Garfunkel sprinkled in.
While sisters Beth and Emillie Key play bouzouki, keys and guitar, and cousin Meghann Loney drums, it is the gorgeous up-front vocal harmonies that define the trio’s sound, a spacious, reverb-heavy fabric that owes much to their defiantly original approach to composing.
Even when they use the often formulaic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format that can turn this creative art into a factory product, they produce something strikingly different, as if they let the music go where it wants to (exploring some side roads with stunning views as it wanders purposefully ahead).
Equally adept at rhythmic run-outs like “Warrior Daughter” and sparse, brooding tracks like “Hold On,” this is no exercise in style-over-substance: these songs are rich in character, hooks, tunes and purpose. Pared back, there is nothing extraneous here.
Although each of them has led worship on her own, as a band they are more outward-looking and these melodic and memorable songs aim to make wider, hope-filled connections. In “The Valley,” in what sounds like a mission statement to me, they promise, “We'll sing out loud and clearly/ where the echoes will touch the broken/ where the spirits will be woken.”
Feted by the BBC and having sung on every track of fellow-Devonian Seth Lakeman’s last album, this band has plenty of opportunity for that.
Sometimes the heaviness of the reverb they use disguises the lyrics, although they tend to repeat many of their phrases (which extends to titles too, with “Hold On“, “Taking a Hold” and “On and On” all coming in a row...). Such phrases emphasize their encouragement, as if they are God’s mouthpiece singing to build up a hurting world. They also sing of "infinite healing" and "a new love that will never be broken." As the album fades out in ambient style, we are left with psalm-like lyrics about waters refreshing a dry land.
It can take a few plays to appreciate their riches, but is very hard to imagine anyone disliking the staggeringly sumptuous sound of these songs.