Warbler - Wrestling
Warbler is Sean Sullivan (singer/songwriter/producer) out of Oakland, CA, who recently released Wrestling which is his third LP. Over the last couple of years Warbler has played several shows in the San Fransisco bay area and a few abroad. Warbler has shared the stage with Band of Horses guitarist Tyler Ramsey, singer/songwriter Bryan John Appleby and several others.
Sullivan describes his music as “Psychadelic religio-political folk rock.” To my ears the music sounded somewhere between Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver and Bright Eyes. It’s very emotive, often with a warm and inviting melancholy.
“Declaring War” is the opener and is almost eight minutes long. The first couple of minutes revolve around delicate guitar picking and vocals. I was getting strong Sufjan Stevens vibes especially his release Carrie & Lowell. The song however does explode into a full arrangement and caught me off guard. It was an interesting twist and with every passing measure the song seemed to get more and more epic until it dissolved into choral style vocal harmonies and guitar. The song doesn't settle yet however and goes into another epic section with a Pink Floyd type of grandiosity. It’s one heck of an introduction.
“Soft American” is next and this one is more like a slow burn into something huge. I was getting John Father Misty vibes here. The song is full of orchestral strings, percussion and more which surround you. I loved the vocals as well.
“Great Reset” is only a-minute-and-a-half long but is a full-fledged arrangement. “We Know What's Best” is a great one. There’s a lot of folk inspired aesthetics here but also some experimentation which is truly well done. I thought there were a lot of insightful and profound lyrics as well. Sullivan sings “Who commissioned those / obnoxious ads that autoplay / while I’m pumping gas? If we’re at peace, / then why do we wage war to eat / the heart out of the land? I don’t know. Is this home?”
“I Cannot Forget” is very ethereal sounding. There’s a lot of atmosphere that seemed to be generated from the vocals which seemed to have a reverb effect. It’s very melancholy but also contains solace which I think is a winning combo. Sullivan’s vocals are the star of the show here.
“The Sixth” was an interesting one. I initially thought this song was too upbeat and funky compared to the previous songs. It worked the more I listened and actually became one of my favorites as an individual island.
“Stop Them” is a gorgeous tune that’s introspective and warm. It’s intimate but also grand because of those orchestral strings. “Cry, Wolf” felt like a single to me. The song has a great groove and the vocal melodies are memorable. It is also arguably the best hook on the album.
“Front Line” gets back into warm melancholy folk headspace. The lyrics were interesting and seemed to revolve around having children. Last up is “Till We Have Faces” which features some seriously good guitar picking similar to previous songs which expands and blossoms into something more full and epic.
Wow. This was an incredible album from the production to the delivery. It’s a hidden gem I encourage you to listen to and share.
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