Sea Wolf | Get to the River Before It Runs too Low (Dangerbird)

cd_seawolfChurch's pained delivery, coupled with somber organ, requires a double take to make sure the copy of Fevers and Mirrors you had in high school didn't accidentally slip into your stereo.

 

 

 

 

 

In Sea Wolf's debut album Get to the River Before It Runs too Low, singer Alex Brown Church crafts folky, contemplative songs in the same vein as Jeff Tweedy or Damien Jurado. A troupe of seven musicians, including cellists, violinists, and guitarists, color his heartfelt narratives with sparse instrumentation, which serve to highlight his sometimes lively, other times weary vocals.

On this five-song disc, each cut seems to slip away from the last, creating a schizophrenic flow. The disc starts out with the upbeat, polished "You're a Wolf." Its chorus is a mantra, "You're a wolf boy/ Get out of this town," hinting at alienation and disappointment, two subjects Church harkens back to on almost every song. Church's finely produced vocals float above a driving electric guitar, string crescendos, and head-bopping drums.

From that lively starting point, Sea Wolf slows it down for the rest of the album, finishing with the patient ballad, "I Don't Know If I'll Be Back This Time." Church's pained delivery, coupled with somber organ, requires a double take to make sure the copy of Fevers and Mirrors you had in high school didn't accidentally slip into your stereo. Although Church is unquestionably talented, his sporadic delivery makes me wonder if he even has his own delivery, or just borrows from others.

If you like folk-driven narratives and crave a well-produced, yet varied collection, grab a copy of Get to the River… Although it isn't groundbreaking, there are some very special moments within this very accessible, even humble collection. Sea Wolf manages to relate sobering stories without sounding beaten down or whiny. The world a lá Church is one filled with a quiet dissatisfaction. It's certainly a very promising start. B | Glen Elkins

RIYL: Damien Jurado, Wilco, Conor Oberst, a stripped-down Calexico

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