The Wilder Blue – Super Natural
The last night of AmericanaFest carries the added pressure of not wanting to miss anything, because it’ll be a year before you can hear this much good music in such a short amount of time. Myself and several of my fellow Americanans showed up at Basement East for the Saturday 9pm showcase (Sarah Jarosz, debuting several songs off her forthcoming, excellent Polaroid Lovers) and what was sure to be a ripping set from Americana’s high-energy priestess, Maggie Rogers. In between the two was a somewhat lesser-know quantity – Texas five-piece The Wilder Blue. Staying put was a gamble – Amethyst Kiah, Parker Millsap and Will Kimbrough were just a few of the other options in the 10pm time slot – but, as it turned out, hanging at “The Beast” proved to be the right call. The Wilder Blue’s blend of Texas country and Southern harmonies were attention grabbers from moment one (several fans I spoke to concurred), and it whetted the appetite for the band’s third album, Super Natural.
Zane Williams has long made tight songwriting a priority, both as a solo artist (check out his chilling “Pablo and Maria”) and as frontman for The Wilder Blue. That emphasis is evident from the first moments of Super Natural, which leads off with the narratively twisted trucking song “Bless My Bones.” The track, featuring some great banjo work from multi-instrumentalist Andy Rogers, is a combo tale of a constantly touring band – “I pull my hat low, so I don’t show my age” – combined with something…a little darker – “Underneath the lights, I come alive again” (I won’t ruin the ending, but it’s shiver-inducing, and a great piece of storytelling). The band reaches even further back in time for “Ogallala Rail,” a guitar and banjo cowboy song full of regret – “”I won’t be here when you return’ she turned to me and said/Wild, empty places held the echo of her words” – and travel disasters – “Took the wheels off the wagons and floated them across/Ruined half the coffee, and it sure was a bitter loss” – that, with a little imagination, translate to a modern day roadie.
Brent Cobb produced Super Natural, and he also stops by for a vocal turn on the title track, a mid-tempo honky tonker that tries to smooth over Murphy’s Law – “Anything can happen, and it might as well will” – with trademark harmonies and gorgeous resonator guitar. An even bigger guest shows up in the form of Luke Combs, who joins the boys on a Texas-y take on the Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road” (the band is opening for Combs on some dates next year – here’s hoping they break this one out together).
Much like that Nashville September Saturday night, though, the best stuff on Super Natural comes from an excellent Texas five-piece who knows just what the hell they’re doing. “True Companion” is a slower number about finding the right person, despite a lifestyle not know for allowing it – “Livin’ is what happens while we’re waiting and wishing for a better day to come.” “The Line” is a slice of 70s AM radio goodness with a jammy Southern rock bridge. And “Sometimes Forever” wraps the album with an unrushed ballad about patience and resilience – “Sometimes dreams come true, sometimes forever.” Whether it’s finding a lifelong love or just sticking around to check out a new (to you) band, sometimes life is about waiting to see what might happen next.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Never Found You” – a break-up song with a happy ending – “If I’d never lost her, I’d never found you” – a great banjo line, and a twin guitar solo.
Super Natural was produced by Brent Cobb. The Wilder Blue is Zane Williams (lead vocals), Paul Eason (guitar), Lyndon Hughes (drums), Sean Rodriguez (bass) and Andy Rogers (multi-instrumentalist). Additional musicians include Brent Cobb and Luke Combs (vocals).
Go here to listen to Super Natural (streaming November 21): https://linktr.ee/Thewilderblue
Check out tour dates here: https://www.thewilderblue.com/shows