Jack Wells and Mel Tarter joined forces in 2007 to form the group Those Willows. Their mission was to create their very own unique, distinct sound. Their powers were used to compose tracks that shows like “Skins” and “The Lying Games” featured. Additionally, Those Willows’ songs appeared on various reality shows on MTV, VH1 and Bravo. Wells and Tarter come from Portland, Oregon and Detroit, Michigan. Therefore, they have played at various festivals around those areas. A few of these festivals include Detroit’s Motown Winter Blast and Lansing’s Festival of the Sun.
Those Willows’ album Existential Folks combines a mixture of jazz, pop, indie and soul with a folky mist. Existential Folks is a melting pot of music eras, styles and beats.
The album opens with a delightful song that could be an Animal Collective song in an alternative universe. It combines various complex yet creative percussive elements as Tarters voice saturates the music. Her voice has a classic folk quality.
It feels pure, warm and heartfelt when she sings.
The song “Clouds Break” has a cheery, folk pop sound like the duo She and Him. It has a relaxed 1950's doo-wop where the vocal performances are stellar.
“Hourglass” gives a more haunting vocal, similar to artists like Joni Mitchell. The song, however, is more of an ode to the beauty of nature. The album ends with "I Feel Younger" which builds upon subtle percussion and strings. A solid way to end the EP but left me thirsty for more.
All the songs on Existential Folks have a reflexive quality to them. Tarter’s vocals, and Those Willows’ lyrics, follows suit of artists like Dido, Corinne Bailey Rae and A Fine Frenzy. Existential Folks’ narrative is about the love of all things the world has to offer.
Those Willows’ album works best while preparing for the day. Its tone makes getting ready more enjoyable. The only negative of Essential Folks is that it could have been more fun with more unexpected instruments. For example, horns or saxophones could have added a more jazz quality to some songs. The song “Mycelium” does this some, but I wanted more throughout the other tracks to add some surprises for the ears.
Overall, Those Willows’ Essential Folks triumphs at its journey through a diverse musical landscape and is highly recommended.
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