Great Lakes - Wild Vision

by Nathan Fidler Rating:5 Release Date:2016-02-04

In the grand scheme of things it’s been quite some time since we heard from Great Lakes - or just Ben Crum, since he’s the last man standing. In their first album for six years, Crum channels what might very well be the real soul of country: the natural bounty of the land.

Rather than any kind of peppy indie-country in the fashion of Band of Horses, or the rocking country of Blitzen Trapper, Great Lakes have morphed from their psych-pop beginnings, the result is a country album infused with all of Crum’s experience leading to this point.

From the awkwardly delivered ‘Bird Flying’ to the distant ‘Beauties Of The Way’, you feel like you’re among the winding rivers and the open plains of old. This album feels like a trip through an American National Park, led by a man who has already grown bored of the job.

There are always flashes of interest throughout the tracks, mostly coming from the psychedelic pop which the band was built upon. But there are genuine flashes of a singer-songwriter at work too, ‘Blood On My Tooth’ a catchy, repetitive yet scolding track. “You spoke the words just to see how they sounded, you made a fool’s move”, Crum delivers in a deadpan manner - which seems to work.

The lack of movement in the vocals is what lets this album down the most. Crum has such a flat, almost spoken-word delivery that half the tracks feel wasted. By the end of the album, the whole thing feels like it’s been something of a drag. Which is a shame, because the joy should come from how honestly Crum is trying to channel a classic, natural feel.

Few albums will use the word “wild” as much as this one, it appears across multiple tracks, and while the instrumentation gives you the feel of a humid, open wild, the vocals leave a lot more to be desired. Perhaps if Crum can bare his teeth a little more, a more passionate album might arise.

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