LCM Song Of The Day: ‘Leave Me Now - Lula Wiles
We head to Boston today to meet our next featured artists the wonderful Lula Wiles. This multi award winning trio is made up of three multi instrumentalist and vocalists Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin. This very talented trio have just released their second album ‘What Will We Do’ on the 25th January, which is currently riding high in the US Americana radio charts. Our featured song today is a live version of ‘Leave Me Now’ taken from the new album. It was recorded at a LR Baggs session in Nashville, TN during the 2018 Americana Festival.
Long before they were in a band together, the members of Lula Wiles were singing folk songs and trading fiddle tunes at camp in Maine. “All of us were lucky to have access to the folk music community at a young age,” Burke says. “The music traditions that we’re drawing on are social, community-building traditions.” On those warm summer nights, playing music was just plain fun. But the members of Lula Wiles carry those early lessons of community and the meaning of shared art with them to this day, as they seek to create music that questions cultural virtues, soothes aching wounds, and envisions a better world.
Lula Wiles came of age in Boston, in the practice rooms of Berklee College of Music and the city’s lively roots scene. In 2016, the band self-released Lula Wiles, a sensitive, twang-tinged collection of originals. Since then, they have toured internationally, winning fans at the Newport Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and sharing stages with the likes of Aoife O’Donovan, the Wood Brothers, and Tim O’Brien.
Now, the release of ‘What Will We Do’ on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings places the group squarely in line with some of its deepest influences, from the protest anthems of Woody Guthrie to the trailblazing songs of Elizabeth Cotten and Hazel Dickens. (Even the band’s name is a twist on an old Carter Family song.)
Going into the recording sessions with engineer and co-producer Dan Cardinal at Dimension Sound Studios in Boston, the members of Lula Wiles knew how they wanted this record to feel: intimate, warm, with the edges left rough. “We really wanted this album to sound like three people making music in a room,” Buckland explains. The songs on What Will We Do draw their power from small moments captured in real time, like the scrape of pick against string or the collective inhale at the start of a verse. The musicians take turns in different roles––Burke and Buckland on guitar and fiddle, Obomsawin on bass, all three singing—but no matter who’s playing what, they operate in close tandem, buoyed by the nimble touch of drummer (and frequent collaborator) Sean Trischka. In carrying on the folk ritual of innovation, they infuse their songs with distinctly modern sounds: pop hooks, distorted electric guitars, and dissonant multi-layered vocals, all employed in the service of songs that reclaim folk music in their own voice.
At its core, ‘What Will We Do’ is an album centered around songcraft. The lyrics are sharp and the melodies finely wrought. You can hear, too, a growing maturity, a widening worldview. These aren’t your typical lovesick country tunes.
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