Gabe Wolford creates acoustic folk music that is commercially viable but also contains enough originality to sound unique. While most people may compare him to artists like Mumford and Sons and Ben Howard he often starts to come into his own on his four-song EP entitled Vinegar Hill. Vinegar Hill was apparently recorded in miscellaneous places around a house such as the bedroom, living room, kitchen, basement and bathroom. I'm not sure how he recorded it but the quality itself sounds better than the majority of DIY recordings. His acoustic guitar sounds just about perfect on the songs. It contains the perfect amount of warmth and reverb. Along with his guitar playing his voice doesn't sound too shabby. I could hear everything clearly and felt like it all laid nicely in the mix. I liked his voice although it had this commercial quality, which reminded me of a concoction of a variety of different popular artists. His songwriting is pretty spot on. The four-songs are well thought out with their structure and delivery. Take for instance the first song “Warm,” which is a great way to start your morning off on the right foot. Wolford picks an infectious upbeat melody as a lone kick drum gives the song a forward-feeling momentum. The background “aaahhhs” were subtle but effective. It’s a good song overall and he saves the best for the last 50 seconds or so when he introduces handclaps and harmonica.
The second song “Frozen By The Flame” displays a similar type of structure utilizing a kick drum to create the sense of progression and an acoustic guitar picking a nice melody. Despite some similarities this song’s melody gives off a sense of melancholy that is reinforced by the lyrics. He sings “my heart has never felt so low/you took me higher then you left to let me there float/falling heavy as the snow/i found my heart and to you thats what I owe” that revolves around themes that have been present in music since its inception. “Kingdom Come” felt like a bit more of a downer than the former song but that’s ok because the song is full of emotion, heartfelt and starts to feel triumphant towards the end. The album closes with “In My Arms.” It’s a nice song that utilizes guitar harmonics as well as some of the most subtle strings I have heard.
One thing I noticed on this album was the level differences. For instance, the guitar was piercingly loud on “In My Arms” compared to the guitar on “Kingdom Come.” These are issues that should have been resolved in mixing/mastering but were not for some reason. Other than this I thought the songs were pretty well thought out and engaging enough that I may spin this again. Vinegar Hill is a short concise EP that contains good examples of well- done acoustic folk.
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