With a cool percussive pattern and plinked notes juxtaposed against a windy, beautiful violin, "Miles of Skyline" is an instrumentally sophisticated number by the promising folk outfit River Whyless.
One wouldn't be wrong in grouping the North Carolina quartet River Whyless in with many of the other so-called "folk revival" groups at the moment, but these musicians are distinctive in several key ways. Rather than focus on layered vocal harmonies (Fleet Foxes) or rousing calls to camaraderie and sentimentalism (Mumford and Sons), this group brings interesting and sophisticated musical technique to the forefront. On "Miles of Skyline", drummer Alex McWalters lays down a knotty rhythmic foundation upon which Ryan O’Keefe plucks a pizzicato-esque guitar pattern in tandem with Halli Anderson's rustic violin. Best of all, none of these nuanced arrangements ever get too assertive, allowing Anderson and bassist Daniel Shearin's vocals room to breathe. In a genre that's getting increasingly oversaturated by the day, the unique compositional style of River Whyless is a breath of fresh air.
Shearin says to PopMatters about the tune, "'Miles of Skyline' is a song I wrote a few years ago with a couple friends of mine, and then reimagined here with River Whyless. Alex [McWalters] had taken the original groove and morphed it from somewhat of a world-feel to this industrial machinelike beat and we just ran with it. All in all, it came together very quickly and easily and is a lot of fun to sing."
"Miles of Skyline" comes from River Whyless' self-titled EP, which is out on 20 January. You can pre-order it via Bandcamp at this link.