From the outset the sound quality of Johannesburg-based band Lunatic Wolf’s debut album, “To the Adventure”, is exceptional. Every instrument and voice is captured beautifully and simply.
Lunatic Wolf is at heart a folk band, a genre which has had more than its share of the limelight in recent time. The last few years have seen the banjo make its return to our airwaves, but these days even Mumford and Sons aren’t using them anymore. Both ukulele and double bass make an appearance on Lunatic Wolf’s stage, but so do electric guitar and keyboard. It’s a pleasant mix of old and new while still maintaining a strong, cliché-free personal identity.
The vocalist is fantastic. Sincerity is a difficult thing to nail down so his ability to sound honest is a rare commodity. Modern songwriters are tempted to write collections of catchy phrases, mix them together and call them songs for the sake of radio friendliness. There’s a lot less of the Bob Dylan mentality that sacrifices simplicity for meaningful narratives these days. Thankfully, Lunatic Wolf’s lyrics shy away from instant gratification, propelling the listener forward with each song’s lengthy, unraveling narrative. “So much taller now/ I can see over your walls/ And your garden/ So delightful.” (Roses)
Successful folk bands rely on rustic charm to evoke imagery and more often than not, nostalgia. Lunatic Wolf creates deeply sentimental songs that don’t overextend themselves. They seldom wander into bubbliness and morbidity. To the Adventure is a successful tightrope walk, perfectly balanced and delicate. It’s full of gentle songs, never forced or over-encumbered and I never thought I’d ever say it – yes, this is an original-sounding folk band. Perfect for romance and road trips.
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Listen to ‘To the Adventure’ below.