CD Review: Quiet Hollers – I Am the Morning (F.M. / Firesafe, 2013)
Shadwick Wilde emerges from the cloud cover
The Kentucky-based Quiet Hollers began as a one-off backing band for Shadwick Wilde’s solo debut, Unforgivable Things, in 2010. But three years and many miles later, the quintet has coalesced around – rather than behind – Wilde. Aaron West’s violin threads its voice through the songs, but it’s Wilde’s confessions that first greet you in the opening letter home, “Road Song.” Wilde catalogs the stream-of-consciousness moments and seasoned observations of a sleep-deprived road warrior, leavening the self-discovery of travel with the ever-present longing for home. Wilde’s earlier years as a punk rock musician add heat to his vocals, but his turn to Americana has add introspective layers to his lyrics and wider dynamics to his music. His older self may be just as unsatisfied as his younger self, but rather than lashing out, he deconstructs inwardly, sensing that the seeds of both discontent and absolution are within. Wilde’s songs still feel like they were written on cloudy days, but they aren’t as thoroughly overcast as his previous set, and the band’s moody backings pick up at just the right moments. There’s a sense of contentment to “Not Oceans, Not Skies” that suggests the flux of Buddhist impermanence rather than angst of existentialist nihilism, and “Mean Avenues” shucks off its resentment more than wallows in it. It’s exciting to hear an artist change and grow, evident here in both Wilde’s songs and the band’s accompaniment.