Georgia-based quartet The Wild tries to keep folk music relevant in the new decade with their first full-length album, “Set Ourselves Free.”
The band’s style could be defined as a mix of Woody Guthrie, The Weakerthans and the continually expanding folk-punk genre. Their lyrics manage a balance between sweet and socially urgent. For example, “Everything We Need” extracts a positive message from modern economic woes by noting that “a stimulus plan” is not the greatest aid a discontented, distanced America needs.
The album exudes a feeling of infectious and energizing togetherness. Even a line like, “I saw a group of people holding hands, and I asked if I could join them,” sounds completely unforced coming from singer/guitarist Witt Wisenbaum. Perhaps it’s because Wisenbaum also runs WonderRoot, a nonprofit Atlanta community space that provides a darkroom, recording studio and performance space for local kids.
The album’s highlight is “The Saddest Thing I Ever Saw,” with its energetic drumbeats and lyrics detailing a city’s vibrancy torn asunder by overdevelopment. Halfway through the song, the music switches over to an almost Neutral Milk Hotel-like interlude with horns and strings. The greatest change from the band’s previous works is the amount of instrumentation present. The harmonica returns from their first album, but the group now includes banjo and electric piano parts as well.
For an even more authentic sound, the album was recorded entirely live to tape and in analog – without any digital recording.
“Dear Noah” is another track that gives an inevitable nod to the admitted influence of Bruce Springsteen by referencing “Thunder Road.” The gorgeous “Burn Up in the Setting Sun” closes the proceedings, although listeners should be sure to hear the song in full or miss an endearing hidden track. Although the album clocks in at just more than a half-hour-only 10 minutes longer than their five-song EP – it offers eight more excellent tunes.
Asian Man Records will release the album instead of the small, free-download Quote Unquote Records. This may increase The Wild’s profile, while the band still maintains its overwhelming sense of an upbeat and inclusive community.
Information about “Set Ourselves Free” and how to purchase it can be found at asianmanrecords.com.