Music

Folk Family Revival: Water Walker

Americana's band of brothers expand their sonic horizons in Water Walker.


Folk Family Revival

Water Walker

Label: Rock Ridge Music
US Release Date: 2015-04-17
UK Release Date: 2015-04-17
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

When Americana outlet Folk Family Revival first hit the scene with the release of their debut album Unfolding, in 2011, it was abundantly clear that the Lankford brothers Mason, Barrett and Lincoln, and Caleb Pace, were onto something. A literal family aiming to revive the 1960s era of folk, blues and rock and roll proved to craft a solid first-time effort, leading them to open for bands like the nationally acclaimed Southern rock ensemble Blackberry Smoke over the past three years since. However, most artists lie within a precarious stereotype of reaching a sophomore slump with the delivery of their second album, ultimately failing to reach the potential that their debut release would have shone a shimmering hope of.

Does Folk Family Revival fit snugly into that realm, doomed to fall into the land of desperate throwback gimmicks before fading totally into obscurity? Luckily, the answer to that is a resounding “no”. The band returned to the studio with a few new tricks up their sleeves, introducing the world to an album that is both fresh and nostalgic yet again without feeling like they’d all been there and done that.

The opening track “If It Don’t Kill You” is a blues-seared jam with appropriately Messianic themes, given the context of Water Walker's name: “If it don’t kill you, it ain’t the father / If it don’t heal you, it ain’t the son / If it don’t fill you, it ain’t the holy spirit / And if it don’t kill you… it ain’t love.” The band takes the composition by the horns, delivering one of their swampiest performances to date whilst making a compelling case to keep listening through the remainder of the LP.

Like in Unfolding, the band of brothers choose to not remain within just one facet of Americana and roots music, instead opting to play with a variety of sounds ranging from blues, to rock, to country, to folk, and back to blues again. “Sunshine” spins a traditional country melody into a slow-grooving alternative ensemble, accentuated by a muted guitar solo, ethereal female backing vocals and a slew of instrumental cadences that, together, make for an atmospheric affair. “I Drew a Line” plays like an electrified Byrds track, whereas tracks like the rollicking “Everyone Loves Someone” and the emotional album staple “Marfa” draw upon Folk Family Revival’s clear Bob Dylan influence.

Meanwhile, “Darlin’” is unlike anything the band put out in their previous effort. It propels them forward further down the line of psychedelic blues -- a moody innovative twist on a time-lasting genre that works wonders. The ensemble gets together on the closing track “I Found God” to deliver a ruminating number that’s like a conglomeration of all of their sound influences. You have a riff that’s drenched neck-deep in the aforementioned blues that culminates into a full-on countrified rock-and-roll solo, with lyrics worthy of something beyond The Basement Tapes.

Water Walker proves to be a prominent addition to Folk Family Revival’s growing portfolio of steady contributions to the Americana scene. Without any outstanding low points on the album, it stands as one of the strongest roots releases of the year so far. They have managed to successfully expand their sound and escape a sophomore slump, though the real test will be with album #3.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image