To call The Wilder Blue a “group” that makes “music” just feels a little … inadequate. It doesn’t properly articulate the experience of seeing these guys perform. Even labeling them a “supergroup” still feels inferior, though they qualify for this distinction by the musical definition—meaning previously-known musicians from various other projects all collaborating together.
It’s not that these dudes are some insane maestros rewriting the possibilities of what music can be, standing on their heads and shooting flames out of their butts. It’s just that the music of The Wilder Blue conveys a mood, an idea, and a philosophical approach to life that transcends simple entertainment from audible noises.
The Wilder Blue is a collective of souls with uncanny chemistry that reminds you why you’re a music fan in the first place. They can even enhance your fondness and recollection of the music of others in the way their songs carry little reminders of some of the best melodies and movements of songs from the past. It’s not just the songwriting, or the incredible five-part harmonies, or the near perfect instrumentation chosen for each musical moment. It’s the whole taco.
Lead singer and songwriter Zane Williams, singer and songwriter Paul Eason, multi-instrumentalist Andy Rogers, drummer Lyndon Hughes, and bassist Sean Rodriguez are joined by Brent Cobb as producer on the new Wilder Blue album Super Natural. Brent Cobb is about the only human being you could entrust with this mission since his own music induces similar mood-altering qualities.
The Wilder Blue is really a band you have to see live to understand what all of the hype is over. Those harmonies hitting you right in the face with the magic that swells in a room of like-minded fans is the only full-bodied experience. Super Natural is more a collection of songs as opposed to a cohesive album, meaning there’s no real underlying thread or theme. Instead, they set their sights on fielding the best 11 songs they can from their expanding repertoire.
Super Natural really has it all. It starts off with a ghost story song. Producer Brent Cobb comes out from behind the mixing board to sing with the group on the title track that takes a swaying, sort of Hayes Carll approach. There’s a song about finding love after a bitter divorce, and another about finding a love that lasts forever. There’s a song about the band’s motorhome, and a bona fide Western tune. A ton of ground is covered on the 11 tracks.
The Eagles have been an apt comparison to The Wilder Blue in the past, and with the band’s harmonies, why wouldn’t you cover the old Steve Young song “Seven Bridges Road,” especially if you can rope Luke Combs into singing it with you? Do we really need another studio version of this? Maybe, or maybe not. But the way Combs has taken The Wilder Blue under his wing (after hearing about them here on SCM), why not make a bridge between the two fan bases?
One of the best original songs on the record is “The Line,” which gives you chill bumps through its recollections of another top-caliber harmony group: Crosby, Still, and Nash. That says nothing about the writing of Zane Williams on the song. His poetry is stellar throughout the album, including the loving lullaby to close out the album, “Sometimes Forever.”
Though The Wilder Blue is a collective, Zane is still the unquestionable frontman and primary song contributor. Paul Eason also comes in with a few important tracks, and everyone contributes to the songs “Super Natural ” and “Roll Betty Roll.”
The Wilder Blue cast a wide net of appeal that crosses genres, eras, and sensibilities, without feeling unoriginal or recycled. With an uncommonly good understanding of what people find so appealing in music and the capability to articulate it, they rekindle the ability for music to mean something more to an audience than mere distraction or escapism.
There is a joy and gratefulness for life embedded in everything The Wilder Blue does that lasts well beyond the last note, because their music reminds you of the things that are truly the most important, and centers your attention back on them.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8.2/10)
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