Wild Child with Stelth Ulvang

April 29, 2018 - 9:00pm

By: Maya Vagner

On Sunday, April 29 the Community Center for the Performing Arts and KLCC proudly welcome Wild Child back to the WOW Hall along with special guest Stelth Ulvang. 

Wild Child left me speechless when I first discovered them.  Their tone is inviting and relatable and their new album proves just that. We’ve all been there before -- finishing a relationship and moving on to have expectations for the next relationship that are unrealistic. In their new album expectations is the common theme.

On February 9, Wild Child released the first two singles from the record - one produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie called “Think It Over”, the other produced by Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit called “Expectations”.  They thought it would hint at what they have been working on since they left us after their last album, Fools. After listening to those two songs, I was in deep need of more.  When iTunes finally released every track, I was so excited that I blocked my whole day out just so I could listen to the album and analyze every detail.

Each song on Expectations is different from the others.  A child’s voice tells Alexander Beggins, “Don’t think that way.”  The track that follows -- called “Alex” -- is a hook-spangled opener that in three breezy minutes builds from a single ukulele to a lush and playful arrangement.  The song “Back And Forth” starts off with an upbeat tempo and a hint of repetition that’s hard to ignore.  The lyrics are about having someone coming back and forth and leading you on in your life.

“We had too many ideas for how we wanted to make this record,” says Kelsey Wilson, the lead vocalist and violinist.  She shrugs.  “So we said, ‘Why not just do all of them?’”

When Wild Child finished their last tour and jumped into the studio to start this album, every member had a new idea and a new vibe to contribute.  Taking this multispectral approach to writing was the best move by far for this band.  They also made a list of their favorite musicians who were also great producers -- choosing ones they thought would shed a new and unique light on specific compositions.  Then Wild Child set about chasing an album from studio to studio all over the world, never saying no to an idea.

Formed in 2010, Wild Child consists of Kelsey Wilson on lead vocals and violin; Alexander Beggins on ukulele and vocals; Sadie Wolfe on cello; Matt Bradshaw on keyboards, trumpet, and harmonica; Tom Myers on drums; Cody Ackors on guitar and trombone; and Tyler Osmond on bass.   These musicians won’t settle for anything less then an infectious blend of perfection. They have managed to reach out to many fans and touch their hearts.  After four albums they still engage their audience with grace in person and through intellectual conversations within their music.  It’s incredible.

Expectations is an awakening after having failed love. Wilson and Beggins’ voices have a yin yang effect; they fit each other naturally as they break boundaries and mold a beautiful story with every track you hear.  The route they took with this album took them from Chris Walla’s (Death Cab For Cutie) studio in Tromso, Norway, to a home-built warehouse studio on the outskirts of Philadelphia, where Dr. Dog’s Scott McMickens picked up the bass and, “Joined the band for a week”; arranging harmonies and sharing living and recording space.  Back in Wimberley, Texas, Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) set up a makeshift studio in Kelsey Wilson’s beloved childhood home -- abandoned since the floods of 2015 -- where they found the muses that were eager to resurface.  The group also tapped the talents of frequent tour mate Chris Boosahda (Shakey Graves), Atlantic Records recording artist Max Frost and Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada (Groupo Fantasma, Brown Sabbath, Spanish Gold).

This album almost immediately settles in to find the band at its most expansive.  Songs like "My Town" and the deep-breathing "Eggshells" stretch the spaces between beats like a Chinese finger/time trap.  They stop for more than one layover in Detroit, with "Back and Forth" evoking the horn charts of Arthur Conley and Jackie Wilson (or even Jens Lekman), and "Think It Over" throws an unexpected nod to Sly and the Family Stone.

The closing track, “Goodbye, Goodnight,” is also the first the group recorded, and the one they believe best epitomizes the journey of making this album. At first, Scott McMicken’s production caught the band off-guard: He slowed the waltz down to the tempo of a dirge — or a dirge with the levity of a waltz — and built the track up at an almost excruciatingly slow pace that in the end gives you what you want from it, but only gives it to you once.

 

“At first we were all just trying to understand where he was coming from,” Wilson says with a laugh.  “And it took us a while to get there, but the arrangement works out so well — with what the song is about and how we felt when we wrote it — that it ended up being one of my favorite songs on the record.”

And the more you listen to Expectations, the more the many worlds of this project begin to cohere around you.  After all, one of the great joys of traveling the world is discovering surprising connections: A skyscraper in Barcelona reminds you of a spire in the Utah desert; the Northern Lights in the Norwegian sky look like an oil slick on the Philadelphia pavement.  Expectations, an album  that can by turns be bitter, wistful, angry and flirtatious, is rich with these surprising rhymes across the record.

“We’re all growing and changing and learning new tricks,” Beggins says.  Wilson responds, “Yeah, there’s no right or wrong way to do anything.”  Her new record, though, is proof she’s wrong about being right.

 

STELTH ULVANG

 

Stelth Ulvang is a creator; self­taught and continually curious to learn more, he's a talented multiinstrumentalist, spirited poet and composer of vulnerable, honest, and rich music. Able to balance heavy truths with the lightness of humor and observation, his songs share the wayfaring nature of his heart. His unique ability to transform living rooms, basements, backyards, kitchens, and even large venues into an intimate moment of storytelling, makes his carnival­style performance and confessional lyrics appealing to the human experience.  Currently touring with The Lumineers, Stelth first kicked off his musical travels co­founding the band known as The Dovekins.

"Ulvang’s solo material is very piano-centric, with his considerable skill on several other instruments creating a lush, multilayered sound,” notes Slat Lake’s City Weekly.  “With his fascinating voice, he can both croon and raggedly shout…"

 

You can follow me to see Wild Child on April 29 at the Historic WOW Hall.  Doors open at 8:00 pm and showtime is 9:00.  Tickets are $15 on advance, $18 day of show.

 

 

Door Time: 
April 29, 2018 - 8:00pm
Cost: 
$15 Advance, $18 Day of Show