Wilder

So here we find ourselves at nature’s crossroads—that transitional purgatory between winter and spring, where the dead things of wintertime fade among the buds of a new season. Birds are reappearing against gray skies. Winds are blowing from new directions. It’s an appropriate climate for Wilder Adkins new record, Hope & Sorrow. Through 12 dreamy songs, Adkins sings in that middle ground where heartache meets love, questions meet faith, and joy blends with pain. The songs are quiet, led by Adkins’ gentle guitar and dulcimer work, but there are extra flourishes this time around as well. There are bursts of string-work and ethereal harmonies. Though each song feels small and intensely personal, there is a grandness to the record. It is Adkins grappling all night as Jacob did, fighting for blessing. It is the artist trying to make sense of those gray, middle grounds. In this world of Hope & Sorrow, time is fading, flowers are blooming and life is flooding in.

You can listen to and purchase the album at https://wilderadkins.bandcamp.com/

Bill

To look at Bill Mallonee these days—the gaunt cowboy with gray hair falling down to his shoulders, his white and gray beard in tangles, his weary eyes staring at something off camera, something distant—you are quite aware that he’s seen a thing or two in his day. In the 90s, he and his band the Vigilantes of Love were regularly on the verge of some kind of mainstream success, with Mallonee poised to take his place among the great songwriters of the ages. But somehow, as those mainstream mechanisms seem to roll, it never quite happened. Eventually he retreated from the road, to the highlands of New Mexico and a simpler life.

The desert suits Mallonee. His retreat (or whatever you want to call it) has given him a creative outlet to pour all that mileage into bittersweet albums about faith, hope, love and the darkness that hovers like a cloud around each. His latest record, Slow Trauma, is another of his late period masterworks. Across 10 songs, Mallonee extracts wisdom from the lives of American waywards, his own life included, as they look across the expanse for some kind of redemption. Mallonee wrote the songs, and he and his wife play all the instruments—a full band of guitars, harmonica, piano and percussion. They call themselves the Big Sky Ramblers, and out there at the edge of the highway, where the mainstream machines cease to roll, they’re coming to grips with hard roads travelled, and heavenly roads ahead.

You can listen to and purchase the album at http://billmalloneemusic.bandcamp.com/