Wise Old Moon is an alternative folk-rock band from Hartford, CT, and the brainchild of singer/songwriter Connor Millican. Their debut album The Patterns was recorded at Dirt Floor Studios in Chester, CT, and released earlier this summer.
The opening instrumental track "The Pursuit” introduces the album's low-key, warmly produced music with the delicately somber sounds of a fiddle and slide guitar weaving in and out of upright bass lines that plod along with light snare hits. "Day Grifter" follows and extends naturally to serve as a good introduction to Millican's songwriting style.
It's the tale of a man who's been tossed away by society but remains optimistic about his situation nonetheless as he wills himself onwards towards another uncertain tomorrow (When he's on the run/ He stays lifted). The hazy musical atmosphere complements the downtrodden-yet-hopeful narrative quite well. Throughout this record, Millican shows that he's capable of storytelling from both third and first person perspectives as the band offers fitting musical contexts to bring his imagery to life.
Yet there are patterns throughout this eight-song album that begin to feel a bit tiresome. At points I felt like I was listening to almost the exact same melodic phrasing in slightly different tempos during different instrumental interludes ("I Don't Know Why vs. "The Patterns"), and the [verse/chorus/pre-instrumental breakdown one-liner from Millican/ instrumental breakdown/ repeat] song structure is worn thin by the album’s end-- the not so good type of musical déjà vu.
The listening experience is refreshed towards the back end with "Night Crew Nocturnal" helping its cause the most. Millican sings from the Jim James-reverb-laden end of his vocal spectrum on this track (the other end would be along the lines of the Avett Brothers. See: "The Patterns"). The fiddle riff gives its verses a distinct bounciness, and the obligatory instrumental breakdown features distorted guitar playing over pretty finger picked acoustic guitar; it feels immediately unique against the moments that precede it.
In general The Patterns is enjoyable enough with its musical elements fitting together just fine, yet it lacks the stand out musical or emotional moments to warrant repeated listens for me within this genre. But as Connor Millican stated in an interview with the Hartford Courant the last songs on The Patterns are some of the newer ones that he's written, which happen to include my two favorite tracks on the record. When you combine that insight with the fact that Wise Old Moon writes music from an honest and personal place, it's easy to believe in an encouraging trajectory for this young band.
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