Wednesday 06 November 2019, 7:30pm - 11pm
The Waterfront Studio
+ the luck
The first thing that strikes you about the second album by Wildwood Kin, self-titled because it captures the band’s artistic vision so completely, is just how natural it sounds. The voices of three young women harmonise effortlessly, there are shades of Simon & Garfunkel, Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac and the churchy cadences of the first Fleet Foxes album in the beautifully gentle folk rock melodies, and lyrics address profound themes like love, loss and spirituality in an unforced fashion. But above all, there is a spirit to the record that is as wild and free as the West Country moors Emillie Key, her younger sister Beth, and their cousin Meghann Loney grew up on.
“Both of our mums play instruments and sing, someone was always on the piano, and we spent childhood car journeys harmonising on the back seat,” says 24-year-old guitarist Emillie on how this family group, who emerged from Devon to have a surprise hit in 2017 with debut album Turning Tides, found their sound. “There was a lot of Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Tracey Chapman and Stevie Wonder in the house. It was a very musical family.”
It was also a forward-thinking, spiritually open family; something reflected in the mysterious quality of the album’s epic opener Headed For The Water. “We’re not a Christian band, but that background does inform us,” says Meghan, 25, Wildwood Kin’s drummer and the most outspoken of the three. “Our first performances were in church settings, and I’m not sure if we would have had the confidence to get up in pubs and clubs if we hadn’t started in that safe family environment where everybody is nice to you.” Beth, the quietest and youngest at 22, who plays bouzouki, adds: “We want to give an uplifting message and make a space for positivity and peace. Music is a healing thing, after all.”
Wildwood Kin’s collaborative approach means one of the three will have the bare bones of a song, she will bring it to the other two, and they will work up the instrumental and harmony arrangements together. Unlike in most bands there is no leader or principal songwriter, which is why the process takes so long. “Perhaps because we’re family we don’t want to bulldoze each other,” says Meg. “There is a lot of refining before the song gets to a place that everyone is happy with.”
There was also an extra element on the album, which is produced by Ian Grimble (Bear’s Den, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Viola Beach Daughter): co-writers. Over sessions in Los Angeles, Nashville and Oxfordshire, Meg, Emillie and Beth dealt with the strange situation of meeting a complete stranger and pouring out to them their innermost thoughts in song.
“It is like a blind date,” says Emillie. “You go in with nothing, you don’t know the person, and if you’re lucky you come out with something you love.”
Among the successful blind dates were Gabrielle Aplin for Wake Up Sleeper, Angelo Petraglia (Taylor Swift, Lissie, the Kings of Leon) for All On Me, and Alex Davies (Sigrid, Birdy, Kodaline) for Signals.
Each track on the album is built around a message that Wildwood Kin can get behind. And that is the key to Wildwood Kin. That connection, acceptance and, ultimately, love is captured on the beautifully reflective second album by Wildwood Kin. It is a tonic for our times.