The Wailing Wall - Low Hanging Fruit - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Wailing Wall - Low Hanging Fruit

Low Hanging Fruit is the new album by The Wailing Wall, which is the vehicle for male vocalist Jesse Rifkin. It is a folk-influenced album with a lo-fi production sound and sparse, primarily acoustic instrumentation. The simplicity and compactness of the songs is one of the album's strengths, and Rifkin achieves compelling results whilst showing economy both in his use of instruments and also in the arrangements.

The tracks are characterised by strong melodies, couplings with solo instruments (see 'Bones Become Rainbows'), and Rifkin's nasal delivery (his intonation at times resembles Bob Dylan, as it does on 'CMR'). Occasionally, there is harshness of the lead vocal although the harmonies on the backing vocals (on 'CMR' and 'Pineapple Clarinet Buffalo') help to help compensate for this.

As the album progresses, Rifkin introduces additional instrumentation to generate dynamic interest (electric guitar is introduced on the Black Crowes-esque fourth track and an electric bass is added on the eighth track), but for the most part, he manages with acoustic instruments only. Similarly, the dynamics benefit from a 'waltz' feel on certain tracks (with 'Bones Become Rainbows', 'Dandelion', and 'Pineapple Clarinet Buffalo', having three beats to the bar).

'Lame Situation' and 'Hands and Teeth' paint revisionist snapshots of rural American life (in the style of The Band), using archaic language, traditional instruments (fiddle, banjo, accordion), and atmospheric sounds, to evoke images of god-fearing people living off the land. Another recurring motif of the album is the 'drone' or 'pedal bass' which takes different forms (the 'omm' sound on 'Speak Not Its Name's backing vocals, the drone at the start of 'Lame Situation', and the sitar sound on 'Bones Become Rainbows'), which lends the album an Eastern mystical vibe. At times the vibe sounds quite pagan (such as on the percussion of opening track 'Speak Not Its Name'). There are no 'filler' tracks on the album, and the standout tracks include 'Lame Situation' (with an eerie atmospheric introduction and melancholy main section), 'Song' and 'Hands and Teeth'.

I would recommend tracking down this album to anyone who enjoys well-crafted songs as Low Hanging Fruit is a 'grower' which is worth persevering with. The songwriting is self-assured, and as such the album's appeal does not deserve to be confined to 'folkies' only.

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