For me, country music is a gift that keeps on giving. Rooted in tradition, yet forever expansive as it takes its various diversions and detours on its relentless journey forward, whilst somehow always belonging to the road that led to this point. Sadly, for me it was a long, neglected genre that I only fell into later in life, and I’ve been busy trying to make up for lost time ever since.
It was really a genuine delight, therefore, when Wolf Willow’s new single(s) landed on my desk. From the Northern Great Plains of Saskatchewan, Wolf Willow have clearly soaked up the great Honky-Tonk, Western swing and ‘Countrypolitan’ sounds along their collective way and turned them into original retro-country music for today’s generation. Not unsurprisingly they’ve garnered quite a reputation since their debut 2021 release of “Old Guitars & Shooting Stars,” an album that won critical praise, multiple award nominations, and helped the band to secure high profile festival spots across Western Canada throughout 2022.
Earlier this month, the band shared news of their latest release, “Marv and Stoneface Sing,” a virtual double ‘A’ side single featuring the twin tracks “Hey Bruce” and “Telling Myself Stories.” – which will surely only add to their snowballing reputation. “Hey Bruce” tells a story of struggle and redemption, with driving Tex-Mex chops and twang (fronted by bass player Marv Ptlosky), making this a catchy little ditty that gets more so with repeated plays, skipping the quick step for an enthralling three minutes and given some extra impedance with horns and steel strings subtly woven in unobtrusively into the mix.
“Telling Myself Stories” is more of a build, again enhanced with strings and horns, with Stoneface Stanley providing lead vocals over a song reflective of self-doubt and pain. It also contains a killer extended sax solo that you just want to hold onto in the play out. Recorded by Dana Rempel (Megan Nash), and mixed by Barrett Ross, these two singles are now available across streaming services. Wolf Willow promise to feature both at upcoming shows this summer and fall, including the Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and Gateway Festival. My recommendation is to catch them if you can. Great stuff!
Photo Credits: Graeme Zirk (single cover) / Unfolding Creative Photo (band image)