The Wildwoods are a duo that is really a trio: husband and wife Noah and Chloe Gose from Lincoln, Nebraska are joined by bassist Andrew Vaggalis on their third full length album, Foxfield Saint John. Lincoln is pretty much in the centre of the contiguous United States so it’s no surprise that The Wildwoods are described as Americana although that sells them rather short. With the addition of cello and drums they produce a powerful sound that crosses genres.
The opening track, ‘Monterey Square’, begins like an instrumental overture, big and attention grabbing with pulsing strings. At the minute mark Chloe’s multi-tracked voice takes up the song. Monterey Square is in Savannah, Georgia and dates from the Mexican-American war but what its significance to The Wildwoods is, I can’t say. ‘West Virginia Rain’ is much gentler and closer to conventional country but it’s also more complex than the title would suggest. The interplay of violin and Michele Bartos’s cello is typical of the band’s sound.
‘The Hard Times Have Come And Gone’ as Chloe and Noah sharing lead vocals and also has the old-fashioned feeling but develops into a bigger, more modern sound dropping into a brief gentle interlude before going full throttle again. ‘Thirteen Sailboats’ opens with a guitar figure from Noah and a sweet lead vocal by Chloe before Noah takes over for a while. From that little guitar intro a big song grows. For some reason the melody of ‘I’ll Never Live In New York’ is reminiscent of Paul Simon but, of course, the sentiments are completely opposite to those that Simon would express. It’s a very clever song.
‘The Thought Of Romance’ is set in Paris and opens with pizzicato violin leading into a gentle waltz while ‘Like My Old Man’, features Noah’s lead vocals until Chloe shoulders her way in with violin and voice. There seems to be an ongoing dynamic between the couple that I find rather intriguing. ‘Foxfield Saint John’ is a suburb of Dublin and the Goses do say that some of these songs are inspired by their travels but I think that the place is just of those names that need to be incorporated into a song. Finally, ‘Painted Skies’ takes us back to childhood memories in a simpler time.
Foxfield Saint John is not an album you can pigeon-hole easily. It’s not typical of any one style and takes time to appreciate. It’s time well spent.
Artists’ website: https://www.thewildwoodsband.com/
‘West Virginia Rain’ – live:
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