Old World Romance by Sea Wolf (Dangerbird Records, 2012. 32 minutes)
Sea Wolf is an indie folk band fronted by Alex Church. It began as a side project for Church but morphed into a full-fledged band. They signed to Dangerbird Records in 2007. Sea Wolf’s first record, Leaves in the River, hit #24 on the Billboard Heatseeker’s Chart.
We All Believe in Something
Some people have faith in a higher power; they see absurdly complex entities and conclude a higher power is in control. Some people believe in an emotional state. They meet their one true love and they know, without a shadow of doubt, wedding bells will soon follow. Some people have faith in reason. They read the latest research papers and bow to the immutable truths of science.
We all believe in something.
For me, the many facets of belief define Sea Wolf’s latest album, Old World Romance.
From the first song on the album, “Old Friend”, the listener clearly hears the motif in clear terms.
“I know you / Don’t believe me / When I believe in you / I know it could get much easier / If we want it to”
“Old Friend” represents an “I” and “Thou” relationship. The ways in which the principal characters interact creates the foundation for trust. These characters grow up with each other; they have a history which forms the foundation for the ways they believe or disbelieve each other.
We express the ways we understand each other positively through our beliefs in others. We believe in fact. We believe in hope.
But we can also suffer from a lack of belief. With “Kasper”, songwriter Alex Church explores the void which occurs when you do not trust yourself.
“I think the sky is gonna clear / Because the hills turn green as summer nears / But a lightning storm, a lightning storm / Can even happen when the air is warm / And I can hear that nothing / Calling out to me / I can feel that nothing / Reaching out for me”
The beauty of the external matters little if nothingness threatens to overcome on the inside. For this reason, we all need a foundation. Our beliefs matter even if they differ greatly from person to person.
Musically, however, Old World Romance falls short. I continue to want more from the instruments and melodies as I listen. Aside from “Old Friend” and the moiling “Dear Fellow Traveler”, Old World Romance feels expected. There are some interesting chords, but the guitars just strum. The melodies meander without much purpose. Old World Romance has some exceptional ideas. However, I wish it were more consistent in presenting its ideas.
Thematically, Alex Church questions the many ways in which humans trust each other, believe in their relationships, and struggle with a loss of faith. Musically, Church could have done better. Look elsewhere for your indie-folk needs.
Verdict: 2 out of 5