White Owl Red have crafted a stunner of an album for this latest release. You can trust in high volumes for this entire record, classically rooted Americana vibes pour through – organic and honest, gritty yet blissfully melodic, and all the while these heartfelt and compelling scenes and thoughts fill the room around you.
Everything But Crying is an absolute early highlight, a beautiful song with a Van Morrison kind of brightness but a level of relatable emotional turmoil at its core. The story-telling and the band’s arrangement all unite well with the quiet passion in the delivery. The concept is memorable, it feels fresh, and these are just a few of the qualities the band offer up throughout Existential Frontiers.
Elsewhere on the album, the energy kicks up or falls away intermittently – the opening and title track is a much more rock and roll infused hit of vibrancy and movement. Still the story-line provokes thought and leads with a string of lyrics that feel genuinely new. A Bob Dylan-esque vocal style paves the way here. In contrast, songs like Good Morning Moonshine mellow things out and offer a near-acoustic set-up that connects for its intimate delicacy – and, as always, that unwavering lyrical realness.
This fourteen-track collection is easily one of the best albums to emerge this year. Feeling like a slept-on classic, White Owl Red hold close to the inherent strengths of music and songwriting as natural means of expression and connection. For these reasons, every song appeals to the deeper parts of our psyche, and each one uplifts or calms in a quickly effective way – as well as being consistently impressive musically.
From the indie-rock rhythm and weight of I’m A Saint, through the finger-picked folk tones of Love Her Still, the album is as eclectic as it is intentional and open. More More More after both of these is something of a highlight for its anthem-like build up. Set Free later on rains down with heartbreaking purity (another highlight, a stunning and humble, personal presentation). The album washes over you with varying waves of emotion and purpose; much like life itself.
Quiet moments are always contrasted well with high-octane, knees-up instances that subsequently hit with impact. Union Fight Song is a mighty example of energizing togetherness – an addictive song with a strong groove, superb musicianship, and crucially considerate, rightfully scathing lyricism. Juxtaposed with this energy and intensity is the following song Hand-Me-Down Girl, gentle and poetic, another example of the band’s thoughtful and uninhibited approach to songwriting and composition.
Towards the end of the album, likable riffs meet with relationship conflict for the strangely enjoyable bounce of Star-Crossed Lover. White Owl Red never fail to keep real life and genuine perspectives at the heart of their work. In a world full of regurgitated instrumentals and ideas designed to keep things on the level, White Owl Red are here to offer authenticity and an undeniably human approach to artistry.
Take A Good Look injects a motivational boost of energy at the penultimate moment, reminding you that a live show from this band is something that would light up your week – maybe even your year. Wishing You Well furthers this and brings the album to a mellow folk finish – vulnerability and reflections on the past lead into a sense of optimism and a feeling that things may well be OK. A beautiful way to finish, and a final reason to let the whole thing play over once more. A refreshingly impressive and easily immersive album, from a band well worth getting on-board with.