For fans of The Crane Wives, of which there are many, suggesting that this is an introduction will seem ridiculous; after all, the independent band out of Grand Rapids has existed since 2010, has cultivated a rabid and loyal audience, and are about to release their fourth album on April 2nd. But for many, this will be the first time hearing of The Crane Wives … and what a perfect time for an introduction as their upcoming Foxlore is the culmination of six years of carefully crafted song cultivation.
The Crane Wives are a four-piece band that have an uncanny ability at crafting goose-bump inducing three-part harmonies. The music that they create is an eclectic blend of indie folk, Americana, and a little bit of ska.
The origin story of the band’s formation dates back to 2010 when Emilee Petersmark and Kate Pillsbury ended up working together at a Chinese food restaurant while in college. Both had been performing as solo artists and decided to join forces and, as Emilee puts it, their first practice was “magic … everything meshed together really well” – not too much later, Dan Rickabus and Tom Gunnels were brought into the mix, with the final addition being Ben Zito.
In the six years since, and with the support of the Michigan music scene, they have been able to tour nationally while honing the band’s unique sound. While their first two albums are more Folk-Americana, Coyote Stories and the upcoming Foxlore demonstrate a transition and evolution of their sound. Recorded at the same time, these two “Sister-Albums” are their most important and successful recordings to date.
Released in the Fall of 2015, Coyote Stories came nearly four years after their sophomore effort and serves as a great (re)introduction to the band. As Emilee puts it, the album is a “gift to the fans to prove to them that it was worth the wait” and features what very well may be their signature song and fan favorite, “Sleeping Giants”. Additional stand-out tracks from the release include the biting “Metaphor”, the twangy “Hard Sell”, and the tender “Never Love an Anchor”. What easily could’ve been a successful album that the group could tour on for the next couple of years, Coyote Stories ends up serving as the transition album that lays the groundwork for the upcoming Foxlore.
Far from a “B-Sides” or collection of throw-away tracks, Foxlore is a declaration and stands as a testament to The Crane Wives’ evolution, an album that will undoubtably herald them a much wider audience. While the fans that have been with The Crane Wives since their inception will still recognize the band – Foxlore will easily grab the ear of an entirely new audience. The album’s opening track “Nothing At All” comes off as an (re)awakening, starting off soft and gentle with layers that build to announce Foxlore‘s arrival.
Foxlore‘s lead single “Ribs” spotlights their lyrical skill and integrity, guides us along with haunting guitar and bass, and drums that serve as the perfect punctuation. The video features animation set to Emilee’s artwork.
Highlights of the album include the standout track, “Curses” (inspired by Susannah Cahalan’s memoir Brain on Fire), the dreamy “I Talk in My Sleep”, the feisty “Turn Out the Lights”, and the album’s closing track “The Garden”.
The Crane Wives are coming off a highly successful appearance at the 2016 Folk Alliance International conference, where they were spotlighted as the top favorite act by the Columbia Daily Tribune. If you are one of their die-hard fans that have been around since their early days, brace yourself for burgeoning popularity that is about to ensue. If you have yet to discover The Crane Wives, now is your chance.
Get more insight on The Crane Wives by listening to Emilee’s recent Guest DJ set and interview for WYEP’s Coffeehouse Conversations.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t provide a glimpse of them rockin’ out live – enjoy!