“We are a folk band from Vancouver”. Or so reads Wake Owl’s facebook page. Their bandcamp tells a different story. All songs are written and performed by Colyn Cameron, with help from a number of guest musicians. These solo projects cum bands, have been in abundance of late. King Charles, Davids Lyre, Bastille and Twin Brother all spring to mind. They’re a grammatical nightmare to write about, is it he or they? Thankfully they’re a pleasure to listen to.
Wake Owls debut EP is “Wild Country”. It’s a loose hybrid between Ben Howard and the Bon Iver of old. There’s energetic folk, creaking guitar, textured vocal and a splash of the woodsman about the 5 track affair.
The title track kicks things off with melancholy and reflection. “What will become of the truth if we keep it in?”. Set against a sombre violin and accentuated by the vocal harmonies of the choruses, it seems the perfect accompaniment to abandonment in the woods. “You’ll Never Go” takes a turn to the upbeat, as the naive delusion of the title may suggest. The creaking acoustic is still there, but the vocal timbre far warmer. There is a hint of keyboard beneath the soundbed, but it’s drums and tambourine that drive the uplifting chorus. “Gold” is exactly that. Opening with the delicate guitar plucking that prompted the earlier Ben Howard comparison. It’s overlayed by Colyn’s vocals at their most poignant supported by an eerie, echoing instrumentation. A bass drumbeat rises out of the mist, propelling the piece to a chorus fuelled by handclaps and strings. Strings that become more prominent in the breakdown, coupled with keys to moving effect. Before launching into the impassioned chorus one last time. This is superb. “Grow” is more of the same. Not as intricate as “Gold”. Still dominated by Colyns powerful vocals, and a by now characteristic “Ooooh”. The EP finishes strongly with “Seaside”. The track is once again underpinned by a glorious rippling soundscape. The guitar riffs on this occasion accompanied by a simple set of keyboard chords. Chords that provide the aquatic touch the title hints at. To close, Colyn hints at more diversity to come, with an as yet unheard vocal tone.
The EP is available for download at your own price on Bandcamp. Colyn sums it up well himself; “I have made this EP ‘pay what you want’ as I would rather leave it up to you to decide what to give. However, anything you choose to give will go directly towards sustaining this musical project.” Go on, you know you want to.