The Wild Feathers - The Wild Feathers
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: Aug. 13, 2013
In just the relatively short time they've been a band, the Nashville quintet The Wild Feathers have shared bills with the likes of Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Grammy Winner Ryan Bingham, to name but a few. That kind of good fortune is not random, but completely intentional, and those three artists are a pretty good jumping off point for describing their roots-rock crunch. Lead single "The Ceiling" is an ass-kicker in every sense of the word. More than six minutes in length it begins quiet and ashen and builds into something burly, kinetic and unstoppable. Over the course of 12 tracks, the band vacillates between howling Southern blues ("Backwoods Company") and autumnal heartland balladry ("If You Don't Love Me") to make for a CD that's as arresting as anything released this year. While a running time of 51 minutes does beg a lot from the listener, the entire experience is engaging, enveloping and more than worth the investment.
The secret to The Wild Feathers' success is its three-pronged vocal attack. Bassist Joel King shares vocal duties with rhythm guitarists Ricky Young and Taylor Burns. Each of the three were accomplished frontmen in their own right, who formed together to create a quintet that just might be one of Nashville's best kept secrets. Anchored by multi-instrumentalist Preston Wimberly and drummer Ben Dumas, the quintet churn out an infectious and deeply affecting masterwork that has trappings of The Eagles, The Band and CSNY. Widely heralded for their sterling live set, the self-titled album finds its strength in the crispness of the confessional "Left My Woman," the hypnotic singalong "American" and the ageless beauty of "Hard Wind."
Picking one song over the other can be a tall order as on various listens new favorites emerge. On one listen it might be the barreling rocker "Hard Times" or the plainspoken and ageless "Tall Boots." Other times its the jangle foot-stomper "I Can Have You," the lingering "Got it Wrong," or the bristling firecracker "I'm Alive." While King and Martin are accomplished frontmen, vocalist Young certainly takes center stage and nowhere is that more apparent than on the weary and battered "If You Don't Love Me." When the disc ends on the piano-driven ballad "How," the urge to go back to the beginning and listen again is almost overwhelming.
If The Wild Feathers is not on your radar, stop what you're doing and listen pronto. This album is more than just an album-of-the-year candidate, this is a disc that is far-reaching, endlessly appealing and as strong as anything that's been released in the Americana genre in the last half-decade. While it may not make the sizable dent it should, there's reason enough to think that given the right amount of time The Wild Feathers are more than guaranteed to make a splash in the very near future. A road paved with Grammy's does not seem out of the realm of possibility.