While their first album, Safe Ship Harbored, expels a youthful glow that sits at home amidst the plains of the Middle West, The Crane Wives’ sophomore attempt, The Fool In Her Wedding Gown, seems to beckon listeners with a sound that emanates from the heart of Michigan’s forests—biting, rustic, and fiercely independent.
“Icarus,” the premiere track, opens with a fiddling reveille that both speaks to the energy and aspirations of the band, but the original tale errs of caution when it comes to getting caught up in the critical success of Safe Ship Harbored.
Rather than being consumed by the flames of their past, the band seems to put aside the exuberance of the first album, instead finding a rekindled sound in the deep, dark, and lovely parts of folk. This is immediately evident come the ponderously paced “Steady, Steady,” leading first with a haunting banjo line that is right at home on 18th century woodland path, followed by a growling anger in both the instrumentality and vocals that seemed completely absent from their first album. The bite is refreshing and invigorating.
“Easier” continues along the trend of self-introspection and darker themes, with lyrics of empty beds and a conflicted message of “if I were someone else/ if I were not myself/ would this get easier?”
Other sanguine favorites rich with agony, matching the boiling veins that run the underbelly of the album, are the tumbling lament “Shallow River,” and the bombastically roaring “Once and For All.”
Though thematically aggressive, opening with an accusative “I saw your breath/ you bastard,” “Glacier House” has harmonies that seem straight out of a wistful Fleet Foxes song. It also demonstrates singers Kate Pillsbury and Emilee Petersmark’s ability to switch from light, heady voices, to more melancholy, soulful tones that are also present in the album’s final track “How To Rest”—something that harkens back to their first album but has matured since.
While the band does invoke their influences on the album, sometime swinging into the Avett Brothers’ pop-folk melodies, fans of the Fleet Foxes’ yearning harmonies, Zee Avi’s melancholic vocals, and Mumford & Sons’ purposeful spirit will also be able to cozy up to The Fool in Her Wedding Gown. The performances by singers Kate Pillsbury and Emilee Petersmark are controlled while simultaneously venomous, and self-described “banjaneer” Tom Gunnels lays down the folk aesthetic that allow the vocals and rhythms to sit like passengers inside a covered wagon.
The Crane Wives will be releasing The Fool in Her Wedding Gown Sep. 22 at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, and those who buy their tickets in advance have a chance to win a copy of the album by sending the picture of the ticket or receipt to email@example.com.
They can also be seen Oct. 12th at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe right here in Kalamazoo. Those that want to see them earlier, snag a ticket to the Earthwork Harvest Gathering in Lake City Sep 14th–16th, where, along with a few Kalamazoo locals such as The Go Rounds and The Red Sea Pedestrians, they will be playing Sunday the 16th.