Gently and slightly, singer-songwriter Tied To A Grizzly serves up soothing melodies rife with simmering conflict on The Wolf Inside Us.
In a tried and true singer-songwriter fashion, Tied To A Grizzly, consists of a man, a guitar and a healthy dose of reverb. While styled in the vein of Elliott Smith cicra Roman Candle, Tied To A Grizzly's sole member Colton Houser sheepishly sings—nearly in the background—while the guitar rolls in and out like a tide: at times but a distant suggestion, at others crashing against the shore with strumming torrents. The vocals are similarly styled, but seldom synced exactly to the ebb and flow of the guitar, making for nuanced delivery that carries more impact when everything does line up.
The lyrics are at the center of the songwriting, with thoughtful rhyming patterns and undertones of malcontent. The song “My Crystal Queen” wonderfully show's off Houser's lyrical cadence with the line, “such a tragedy, my majesty, that all of your kings keep vanishing.” And, while some songs err towards romantic musings, often the subject matter trends towards religious skepticism, with lines like, “I went searching for god and found my chest was an empty cave” and “so christ if you are real..."
The aforementioned song “My Crystal Queen” also stands out as one of the strongest on the album, partially just due to the seemingly increased production value on the track. While the lo-fi production does add to the haunting qualities on the rest of the album, that song shows that Houser can be just as eerie while confidently delivering lines and using his a voice as a driving musical element.
That said, the production throughout is effective for the style of music, as well as impressive for a totally DIY project. Houser is entirely self taught—at both playing and recording—but rather than coming off as amateurish, the album conveys a deeply earnest sense of sincerity. The echo-y minimalism of the The Wolf Inside Us brings a mystical sense of forlorn to bear, properly preparing the environment for the lyrics to exist within.
Overall, The Wolf Inside Us is a solid and coherent album. The songs are tightly bound together in both style and subject, and there is a sense of progression to it as a whole. Hopefully Tied To A Grizzly will continue to find confidence and clarity in the delivery of thoughtful lyrics, but just as hopefully the project will maintain its lo-fi roots.
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