Wolf People - Tidings - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Wolf People - Tidings

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2012-01-23

Wolf People's 2010 debut album Steeple was a refreshing slice of unabashed, 70s-indebted, folk-tinged, balls-out rock. A record steeped in tradition, Led Zeppelin vibes and Fairport Convention records; Steeple was a cracking listen. Tidings isn't, as some may have hoped, Wolf People's second album. Tidings is a compilation of singles and early recordings recorded by frontman Jack Sharp between 2005 and 2007 which give us a revealing insight into the bands formative stages.

The collection opens with murky riffs and reverb-soaked guitars on introductory piece 'Season Pt 1'. This loose instrumental gives way to the wonderful 'Black Water', whose hazy, folk-rock vibes would have slipped seamlessly into Steeple. There's a brief banjo interlude before 'Cotton Strands' struts into view with sitar, flute and impressive guitar work in tow.

These recordings have a warm, classic, analogue sound which makes the whole collection come across like some great lost 70s folk-rock record. The band are certainly gleefully out-of-step with current trends, Wolf People don't really do electro-pop, surf-pop or 80s indie-rock for instance. Their most obvious kindred spirits would be Vancouver's Black Mountain but Wolf People are from Bedford, London and North Yorkshire. There's an unmistakable British influence in what Wolf People do, from the likes of Pentangle, Cream and the guitar skills of Richard Thompson. That's a fairly eye watering list of influences but Wolf People carry them well.

The confident strut of 'October Fire' manages to channel a bit of Hendrix-esque magic as Sharp drawls, "I'm gonna start a fire, to burn the wicked liars…" over the tracks loose, excitable guitar playing. It's one of most instantly brilliant tracks here and would certainly be a potential live highlight. I say this as Wolf People have garnered quite a reputation as an exciting live spectacle and as shockingly gifted musicians; when their early recordings sound this good it's no surprise they're blowing audiences away.

Other high points include the bluesy, evil sounding 'Empty Heart' that has the hazy menace of early Fleetwood Mac (no, not Rumours!). The record is interspersed with brief instrumentals that often show the band at their most playful, sometimes recalling the giddy experiments present on those early Pink Floyd records, sometimes a test run for a riff or an idea. These tracks are great but sometimes frustratingly brief. They tease yr ears for a minute or so before stopping and it's impossible not to wonder what a more fully rendered version would sound like. Overall Steeple is a more satisfying, fully formed listening experience but Tidings is far from a weak record.

From all my name dropping you'd be forgiven for thinking that Wolf People are wholly unoriginal and terminally stuck in the nineteen-seventies. Well, I guess you'd be half right. Wolf People are heavily indebted to the various rock and folk-rock acts I've littered this review with yet (as clichéd as this sounds) they've taken these influences and made them their own. If you've enjoyed the good side of trad-rock revivalism from the likes Dead Meadow and Black Mountain then you'll love Tidings.

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