Kyle Field, frontman of Little Wings, is what you might call a postmodern balladeer of rural and urban landscapes. California’s wonderful natural surroundings, youth culture and the big city congestions issues were a source of inspiration for his hymns. Only somewhere during the course of time he expanded his horizon and started residing in landscapes of half truths. Luckily this was just the right place to bring together his fragile poetry and wobbly folk pop.
Field always was inspired by the Pacific Northwest and traveled around this region for many years. Throughout time he changed his style from warm alt-country tot non-traditional lo-fi folk songs and served them up to anyone who was interested. Magic Wand (2004) and Grow (2005) where his most prolific albums at the time. As Little Wings he kept releasing one album after the other which probably was a bit too much for the larger public to comprehend. His last three releases caused his catalogue to grow to a considerable size of ten albums but were probably never played outside the confines of the bedroom.
If you’re into drinking herbal tea and smoking pipes, …or things like that, Explains serves as an ideal background record. The 40 minutes it takes Explains to complete is a good period to pause to on a sunday afternoon, yet, within this time Field also manages to pull you into this dreamy world of the extraordinary. With a bumpy off-key and almost whispery manner of singing listers are quickly hypnotized. Although sometimes it seems he’s not singing at all but is mingling folk melodies with spoken word to a genre that hardly can be described in words. ‘Light Brang’, the album’s second track, is a fine example of Little Wings’ pace changing, idiosyncratic formless poetry that seemingly steams out in uncontrolled verses such as: “Look at what that light brought. Run with it like a metaphor, Sleepy hollow headless and my neighbour calls me Ichabod“. During ‘Fat Chance’, Field becomes more curt as the song proceeds. Eventually he ends up randomly scattering the one loose words after another which dazzlingly becomes a freaky experience.
Explains also is a low-spirited album which at times made me think of Mark Kozelek’s work. ‘Old Apocalypse Style’ for example, could be a true addition to many sadcore playlists out there. Other tracks are still revolved around the natural thematics Little Wings started singing about fifteen years ago. ‘A Blade of Grass’ and ‘Hollowed Log’’ emphasize the strong emotional link Field has with nature but also continues his wandering manner of singing. On ‘Where’, the album’s closer, emotions rise high. Here a lovely false singing Field is accompanied by a piano. Well, if this doesn’t make you cry then nothing will.
Field still keeps things close on Explains. An empty living or yet again a stuffy bedroom is the best place to give this new Little Wings scion a try. On this release Field outstrips himself from a songwriter to something unheard. Here the question raises if Field is experimenting with the concepts of folk with a clear purpose or just waywardly is playing around dropping random words in an alt-country setting. The truth probably lies midway between these points of view. Nevertheless Field seems to be more one with his new but blurry kind of music than ever. A close listen to Explains therefore is mandatory for everyone who’s enjoys progressive music.
Label: Woodsist Recordings, 2015
- By Now (3:44)
- Light Brang (3:33)
- Fat Chance (5:12)
- Hill Hidden Nog (2:39)
- Old Apocalypse Style (6:07)
- A Blade of Grass (2:57)
- A Sky (2:36)
- Around This World (2:38)
- Hollowed Log (3:15)
- This Evening (3:00)
- Where (4:47)
Kyle Field – Little Wings – documentary from 2004
Little Wings – Neptune’s Net – Live @ Le Guess Who? 2012, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Kyle Field – Little Wings – preOCCUPATIONS series
Review by Wander Meulemans // 210615
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