Listening to the lush, soulful acoustic melodies and soaring vocal harmonies of UK acoustic alt folk trio Wildwood Kin on their truly stunning self-titled sophomore release, the immediate frame of reference was obvious to me, but apparently not to other journalists and promoters. Most compare the sparkling, transcendent chemistry of Meg Loney and her cousins, sisters Emillie (guitar) and Beth (bouzouki, keyboards) Key, to legendary acts like Simon & Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac, or more modern folk-rock hipsters like Bear’s Den, Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes.
The sisters element and the fact that their most streamed song to date (from their 2017 debut Turning Tides is named “Hold On” (over 7.5 million on Spotify) makes the path clearer to dub Wildwood Kin this generation’s West Country moors based Wilson Phillips – albeit with a bit more acoustic grit and a much deeper social consciousness (i.e no fluffy love songs here!). My guess is WP’s mainstream pop success has prevented others from hearing the obvious – but to my sensibilities, it’s a testament to the power of each member’s individual vocals and the soul enveloping power they create when they combine them.
The deeper messaging which has earned them favorable comparisons to the more socially relevant bands is clear from the get go, as the first single, the Ed Harcourt co-written and co-produced “Never Alone” – which begins with a dreamy acoustic grace and builds towards a high powered chorus – is a deeply personal message of encouragement to anyone feeling as isolated as Meg’s brother, who sadly committed suicide. Wildwood Kin are dedicated throughout to addressing life’s emotional difficulties – and finding positive, life affirming ways through the darkness.
Great examples of this are two hypnotically grooving tunes “Beauty in Your Brokenness” (about accepting our worthiness, flaws and all) and the gently encouraging “Wake Up Sleeper.” Other gems include the atmospheric “Signals” (about how we often miss the meaningful signs life gives us), the intensely percussive, sonically expansive empowerment anthem “Time Has Come” and “The Crown,” a kindly rendered poke at political hypocrisy. Whoever you choose to compare their infectious charms and beautiful voices to, Wildwood Kin is a multi-faceted, compelling collection that demands repeated listening with an open heart.
To stream Wildwood Kin: