Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wake Owl Runs Into The Wild Country

colyn cameron of wake owl
Unlike many musically inclined teenagers growing up in Southern California, Colyn Cameron didn't immediately rush headlong into music. He trained in organic agriculture at Emerson College in England instead. Doing so gave him the chance to work on farms all over the world, in countries as diverse as Chile, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

But then something happened after Cameron landed in Vancouver. As he felt more settled, splitting his time between Vancouver and Portland, he turned some of his attention back to music and began playing in other bands. It wasn't long after that the experience convinced him to record some of the songs he had written during his journey.

"With this EP I was really focused on just creating recordings I could be proud of and felt connected to as a group of songs," said Cameron. "I wanted to capture and represent, in all its instrumentation and arrangement, what those songs mean to me." 

The five-track EP Wild Country represents the best of them. Although recorded with his new band Wake Owl, Wild Country is a spirited singer-songwriter debut that aims for the soul. Almost every track is introspectively inclined and semi-confessional.

The strongest track on the EP, Gold, which Cameron had released as a single in advance of the debut, is especially powerful. Although the song is about a close family member who has always battled addiction, the track is easy to relate to because it asks who we are and where that might lead.

It effortlessly wavers between melancholy and hope, painting an accurate picture of life as people frequently have to reconcile who they are and what they wanted to be. At the same time, it never needs to preach, even if it seems reasonably clear that the person close to Cameron wins out. We can all hope.

Wild Country is another track that's worth a listen. It's a pointed look at regrets, those we keep and those we lie about to avoid the judgements of others. But Cameron isn't content in criminalizing any past mistakes. The lesson learned it to avoid those who would judge you for your past.

Although Seaside is an overtly simple love ballad, Cameron and his band — which includes Aiden Brant-Briscall, Josh Daignault, and Andy Shauf — manage to hold it together. It's not great, but it is better than You'll Never Go, which is best if it's skipped all together.

Instead of those two tracks, Grow is worth the download, a relatively straightforward and honest track about it being its easier to run away when you are young before everything ties you down. Cameron hangs onto the image of his own youth, perhaps, close enough that his offer to run away feels like it is being made today.

Wake Owl is a band to watch, led by a talented songwriter.

Wake Owl easily deserves to be added to the watch list, as three of the tracks really make the case that Cameron will only get better as he broadens his songwriting beyond his experiences. He seems more comfortable being contemplative than romantic.

The sixth track, a bonus track that features the demo version of Gold on the EP, makes the case. Although the studio version is more memorable as a richly textured and more complete track, the demo gives Cameron a brilliantly confessional twist. This is pretty great because it's not a confessional as much as it is a solid piece of writing by an empathetic songwriter. And we respect that.

Wild Country By Wake Owl Frees 5.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Another reason to like Wake Owl is that Cameron seems so perfectly comfortable within the confines of a relaxed, rural fold rock. Not everybody does (especially songwriters who mostly started with a healthy diet of rap in their tweens). But even more than that, Cameron's experience includes a worldly wide openness to a genre that so many mistake as always having to be isolated.

Wild Country EP by Wake Owl is available on Amazon. You can also download the EP or select tracks from iTunes. A physical CD is also planned; Barnes & Noble currently lists it under pre-order. Wake Owl currently has a heavy tour schedule in February and March. Check for dates on Facebook.
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