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Wolf People - Fain

  by Richard Lewis

published: 11 / 5 / 2013

Wolf People - Fain
Label: Jagjaguwar
Format: CD


Impressive combination of 60's and 70's-influenced blues and folk on second album from London-based band, Wolf People

The second album by Wolf People, building on the band’s burgeoning live reputation offers a fresh take on the sound minted Brit blues rock boom of the late sixties and its folkier incarnation in the following decade. The first UK band to sign to estimable US label Jagjaguwar, the quartet led by vocalist/guitarist Jack Sharp took to the seclusion of the Yorkshire Dales to record the follow-up to 2010 debut ‘Steeple’. Reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s country-bound retreat to Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales to helm the songs for their third LP, Wolf People producing themselves on this album have easily recreated their onstage firepower. In thrall to the sound that emerged at the tail end of the sixties led by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Traffic and Zeppelin themselves, the ‘People deftly locate a midway point between blues rock and folk, harking back to the era without becoming derivative. A band frequently invoked during the LP, cerebral prog/folk act Jethro Tull appear to be a treasured influence. A group who were a consistent fixture in the album charts throughout the 1970s and critically acclaimed for most of it, the outfit unfortunately now have little of the cache of shared memories by their contemporaries. Lyrically Jack Sharp’s crew appear to share much of the same lyrical themes as Ian Anderson’s mob, the present band’s moniker brilliantly well chosen as the lyrics draw from the folk tradition and tap into a rich seam of mythology. Opening with the side-winding riffs of ‘Empty Vessels’ and ‘All Returns’, the album truly hits its stride three tracks in with ‘When The Fire is Dead in the Grate’. Highlighting the group’s dexterously two guitar format, the song commences a troika of brilliant tracks. ‘Athol’ that follows underpinned by a blues riff that sees the entire band lunge forward in unison before breaking into the reflective verses, points up the intersection between progressive and hard rock, trading in the rustic feel for something grittier. ‘Hesperus’ a sprawling suite-like piece that opens Side One, proves to be the standout moment of the set. Presumably lifting its title from Henry Longfollow’s 1842 poem ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ the cut effectively summarises the band’s oeuvre in a single track, moving from a pastoral opening phase via a languid rolling groove onto a filthy bass riff five minutes in, effortlessly switching moods and tempos. Penultimate track ‘Thief’ proves to be a slight drag, its seven minutes nearer to a pleasant-enough jam session than an actual song, missing the conciseness found elsewhere on the album. Concluding with the greatest departure of the LP ‘NRR’ provides a fitful finale, bouncing along on a fuzz-toned bassline and Bonham-esque drums, punctuated by bursts of squalling guitar. Ending suitably enough with a long lupine howl of feedback, ‘Fain’ frequently dazzles as Wolf People continue to stitch together the threads that make up their sound. An impressive second outing, the next time out don’t bet against the band coming up with a third instalment that is flat-out stunning.

Track Listing:-
1 Empty Vessels
2 All Returns
3 When the Fire is Dead in the
4 Grate
5 Athol
6 Hesperus
7 Answer
8 Thief

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