CD Review: Br’er Rabbit
The Wild North
Every once in a while you find a band that makes you feel inspired and reminds you why you loved music to begin with. They can make you laugh, make you dance, make you cry, and make you sing. These kinds of bands are rare and when they record a record you wait for it with an anxious ear and a hopeful heart. That is how many have felt about Br’er Rabbit since the first day they became a part of the Bellingham music scene. When they announced that they were recording their debut full length album at the legendary Bear Creek Studio, a fuse of excitement was lit. And now, The Wild North is here and bursts out like a prophetic voice in the wilderness.
The album blooms open with “Salt Flats” featuring a driving ukulele and a feeling of earnest optimism that has long been a hallmark of the band. The following track, “Grace,” offers a beautiful arrangement of harmonies and a violin line that weaves about the rhythm to create a song that feels like it was sifted from the earth itself. “Running Up the Coast” is a pleasant homage to old-school country that is so often overlooked with Zach Hamer’s delightfully prominent guitar work.
Perhaps the most personal song on the album is “Open Up,” which vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Miranda Zickler penned about her deep ties to animal rights. The track begins with a choral arrangement featuring members of the Mount Vernon High School Choir and moves into a lyrical narrative that will either give you chills, bring you to tears, or both.
Following “Open Up” is “Distant Lands” which is a boot stomping, banjo picking rumble with Nathan Hamer (vocals/ukulele/mandolin) and Miranda harmonizing seamlessly, and Zach (vocals/guitar) creating a playful call and response structure. “With A Gun” is one of the tracks that show how much the band has expanded the past year. Jillian Walker’s cello work on this track shows how influential a piece she has become in the band’s puzzle and the changes in rhythm exemplify how much the band has grown since their EP.
“Never Be Satisfied” is a subtle echo to bluegrass with harmonies and fiddle work not out of place on a porch somewhere in the sticks. “Burn the Wide Forest” creates a spooky landscape for the listener with a cinematic sense of space that makes you feel like you’re flying above a misty mountain range.
On “West of 4th,” Nathan’s knack for songwriting shines through as he is able to create a memorable and fun story of tipsy flirtation and falling in love on the dance floor that will get any audience member at a show singing along. The Wild North closes with “The Flood,” an exquisite and affecting piano ballad. The lyrics by Miranda and backing lyrics by Nathan are true gems and the crescendo of the song provides an appropriate emotional climax to end the album.
As a whole, The Wild North is a stunning effort by this young band and a reminder to all of the hope and inspiration music can provide.