All my information on the Irish comes from Conan O’ Brien and comedy writers’ excessive need to mock the heavy drinking. The culturally rich roots are often ignored, plastered over by the same rundown excuses. Wolf & Clover are the Irish sound I want to hear and experience. This is their second EP, Twelvemonth & A Day.
The excitement of this music is having a ready background score playing in your head. Might be a TV show or movie, but when I say Irish, you hear the drinking songs and hoedowns. This is a fresh new take, new sound and artists open to experimentation and reinterpretation. Operating with several artists and composers, this is a taste of this sound you might never forget.
The Columbus Set is the opening single. With accordions, flutes, violins and the banjos making the traditional instruments, the guitar added adds a new depth to the track. It is a beautiful track, visual in a way that you wouldn’t expect from an instrumental. The major chord progression ensures the song stays on a high, each texture having its miniscule moment to shine. Mostly in unity, they create a rich harmony worth listening to several times.
Breathtaking violin strings escort you gently in this next track. Called The Animal Set, it features sounds of nature being represented by this traditional ensemble. As the strings take lead, the flute harmonizes to create this complex emotional pattern that is hard to find in other music. The myriad scales each of these instruments can explore, the layered registers is what makes these tracks unique.
To narrate in harmony
The Unquiet Grave is the first track with powerful vocals. Her voice demands attention, as the pitch glides above the instrumentals, all taking a backseat to create a melody. As there are no percussion instruments, it’s the strums of the guitar or the plucking of the banjo that give the slow pace its place. A lyrical wonder, created masterfully by virtuosos. Compositional ingenuity comes to position in many places, especially where these instruments create the splendid canvas.
This is a fantastic riff, and gets better knowing its on the flute. You know, the instrument that requires you to have the lungs of a blue whale. The James Carville Set is like a Jethro Tull song. Flute is king, yet the other four instruments make sure they make a comfortable sonic throne for the flute to reign on. It is a thematic exploration where I cannot stop imagining several moments of Lord of The Rings, and in no world is that a bad thing.
An Rógaire Dubh feature Gaelic lyrics I do not understand. Now language is no barrier, but I would love to hear the complexity of the sentiment. Having more of a contemporary sound due to the constant guitar strum, the pianos add a new echelon of treble that makes this song more exciting to explore. It also has the guitar being the savior and messiah in this song, a beautiful and simple section.
The Whistle Set is the flutes narrative to the other instruments. As it explores the various elements of its plotline and life, the composition is aided by harmonics from the strings, while the guitar is on constant rhythm support. It is a wander in the garden, a walk in the park and a day out for the flute. The tempo changes are more the welcome, adding new sound and effect to the song, where the banjo and flute dance it out in the open.
An Eriskay Love Lilt is a short and sweet song that has contemporary connotations to it. It has this rich, curated sound that is a hop and skip between the vocals and instruments. A joyful, playful approach like their first track in the album. I really admire how much work has gone into the arrangement for Wolf & Clover since their debut EP in 2018 in the arrangement. Their songs have great production and quality of execution has been refined as well.
A medley among medleys
The Suitor Set has a very interesting time signature. Makes you want to keep nodding to the evident 4/4, yet my focus is on the shine of the instruments. I picture the scene from Gangs of New York from this song, everyone making merry and having a good time, drinking beer. Yet it has moments where it becomes an emotional prelude to a warm conversation, personal and effortless with the listener.
The Bedroom Set makes way into our hearts because of how the notes just flow into each other, as part of a longer sequence. Its smooth execution makes it a wonder to hear, all of the moments coinciding perfectly within each instrument. Which is where I would introduce Into the Mystic as well. It is a spectacular offset of one another, yet is different in so many ways. It’s the first track with drums as well, with the powerful vocals taking over.
O’ Carolan’s Farewell to Music is the final track in this album. It would be expected that Wolf & Clover would treat it as such. With a condensation of several lessons within the album itself, the natural timbre of each instruments comes to bid you farewell, cherishing every moment of air time. Air time we know of, but just purpose to them. Given by these spectacular musicians, each track has a story to tell-sad, complex, happy and many a times, all of it. Like whatever meaning you’re attaching to life. Wolf & Clover have outdone themselves with 11 superbly strong songs in this album that might be their white. I know I can listen to this album for twelvemonth and a day.
Listen to the album here:
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Discovered via http://musosoup.com
Self professed metalhead, moderately well read. If the music has soul, it's whole to me. The fact that my bio could have ended on a rhyme and doesn't should tell you a lot about my personality.