Carley Wolf – Set Sail

January 01, 1970



Americana aficionados may find it faintly ludicrous, if not
aggravating, that Norah Jones announces she’s ditching MOR pop for roots music and
every journalist on the planet wants to lick her piano pedals, but
across the land deserving unknowns with far more authenticity and pizzazz than
Jones continue to toil as, well, unknowns. I mention this only because (a) Jones is in the news right now; (b) and Austin songstress Carley
Wolf has been compared to Jones in past reviews. Not necessarily without cause;
at times she shares that same vulnerable, ingénue quality that’s guaranteed to
melt hearts. And her style touches upon pop, folk, country, jazz and even classical
at times – a winning hybrid, just like Jones.


Still, one could do far worse than to take Wolf on her own
terms. She terms her music “gypsy folk rock,” and the jaunty, strummy opening
track is called “Gypsy Soul Blues,” so if label we must, those ain’t too far
off. In fact, “gypsy” may be the operative term here, as Wolf demonstrates her
wanderlust across the course of these ten tracks. Abetted by players on loan
from the Belleville Outfit, Shotgun Party and The Blue Hit, Wolf shines on such
highlights as the gently lilting “Cold Dead Fingers,” a countryish ballad
reminiscent of some of Alejandro Escovedo’s strings-laden compositions; the
brushed-percussion, soul-jazz infused title track; and the European-flavored
“Whole Hearted Lover,” and uptempo blend of swing, blues and café culture. Wolf’s
a gifted multiinstrumentalist, by the way, playing at various points guitar,
upright bass, mandolin, banjo, pump organ and keyboards.


Throughout, her expressive voice, terminally sexy but with
an understated quality that gets under your skin through a slow process of
seduction, remains the focus (credit to collaborators and coproducers Steve
Collins and Jonathan Konya for recognizing that aural asset). Like her hero Tom
Waits (she’ll confirm that statement), it’s a memorable voice that takes on its
own singular identity, and as she charts her life, her loves and maybe even a
few losses, too, you’ll want to follow her path.


A musical nomad by any estimation, Wolf – like the cover
rendering by artist Jet Whitt – proves to be a tempting mystery worth
unraveling. Surprises await.


Standout Tracks: “Whole
Hearted Lover,” “Run Into the Sun,” “Cold Dead Fingers” FRED MILLS


Carley Wolf is
currently touring with her band The Howls. Dates at her MySpace page:


Video for “Run Into the Sun”:



Leave a Reply