Wildflower’s new album introduces the mellow sound of Maine.
There’s no doubt that most American states have their own specific musical signatures. California has the sixties surf sound along with the seventies singer/songwriter genre. Louisiana has Cajun, zydeco swamp rock and jazz. Texas has Tex-Mex and Western Swing. Michigan has Motown and hard Detroit rock. Tennessee has country and western, new country, bluegrass and gospel. These are just a few examples of the varied music that comes from those US states. But one state that really doesn’t seem to have its own sound is Maine, the half-forgotten, eastern seaboard-hugging state that’s so far north, it’s almost in Canada – but maybe with Wildflower’s latest album ‘The Ocean Rose’, it has that sound now.
And that sound is gentle, lilting, soothing and tender. It’s mainly acoustic with the occasional electric and slide guitars with the drums well in the background being brushed rather than hammered. Being on the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a feel of the sea about the music which rolls with the waves as they crash against the rocks. The lyrics are all about summer breezes, rolling seas, the smell of the trees, the sun in the hair and the state of the planet. ‘The Ocean Rose’ encapsulates all of that and more. The songs have titles such as ‘The Ocean Grows’, ‘Golden’, ‘Evening Falls In Paradise’ and ‘A Rose On The Ocean’.
Wildflower is led by Adrian O’Barr who has written all the songs, plays guitar and is lead vocalist. His voice fits in superbly with the sound of Maine carrying with it the fragility of early Neil Young mixed in with a touch of Jeff Tweedy. Sometimes it sits a little too far back in the mix which is a shame and the same goes for the harmony vocals of Kacey Johansing and Michael Nau. The rest of the band is made up of Matthew Maiello on keyboards and wind instruments, Jason Eckerson on bass, Alex Withrop on guitar and Roby Moulton on drums. The five players are all close friends, and that camaraderie comes across on their playing on the album’s nine songs, one of which, the aforementioned, ‘Evening Falls In Paradise’ is an evocative instrumental featuring Maiello playing a very mellifluous clarinet
There’s a laid-back almost seventies, gentle reflectiveness to the ‘The Ocean Blue’ which gives the listener a warm glow as the sound of Maine washes across them. There’s nothing threatening about the album but that’s not a bad thing – the world needs all the gentleness and love it can get at the moment. The sound of Maine might not have the rough edges of the music of Michigan and New York or the brashness of Louisiana and Tennessee’s but the contrast is refreshing and Adrian O’Barrs’s songs and Wildflower’s mellow, measured sound means ‘The Ocean Blue’ is well worth a listen.