Sea Wolf, who has been on the move going on seven years now, and going strong, was recently heard again, directly from the open roadways of Texas. As a seasoned deep-folk artist who operates along the new musical horizon, this impressively talented and soulful singer-songwriter was in the process of completing a more local, solo, acoustic tour between two dates in Austin and Houston, Dallas, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Sea Wolf will light through the mix at a handful of other locales before turning north in March, to hit the likes of Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Vancouver, Anchorage and, finally, Calgary, all of which are destined to bask in the warm glow of Sea Wolf’s contemporary momentum. Bordering on experimental, minimalist and improvisatory instrumental music, Sea Wolf’s newfound ventures as an independent artist harken back to the early days.
“I set out to make an album similar to my earlier work — stripped-down experimental, quieter songs, early Sea Wolf days, getting back to having fun and messing around with stuff,” says Alex Brown Church, the brainchild behind Sea Wolf. His recent break from Dangerbird Records to produce an indie record has afforded a creative freedom since the latest, Old World Romance, hit shelves on September 11, 2012.
“There’ll still be a few more traditional Sea Wolf dance songs,” Church says, reminding this tremendously multi-disciplined artist’s diverse fanbase that the momentum is indeed forward-moving, an integration of previous impulses and moods into a refreshed, and exposed, unbranded effort. After a successful crowd-funding effort ended in October 1, 2013, L.A.-based Sea Wolf is still keeping soon-ecstatic listeners on the edges of their seats, as the mixing continues.
“I’m still promoting Old World Romance,” Church says, working hard without his usual five- or six-piece band configuration, which often includes your standard bass, guitar, keyboard, drum, electro-folk foundation, as well as an occasional cellist. “As soon as I’m done with this one, I’ll start writing the next record. I’m feeling inspired.”
He’s on the road day in and day out, with no one to follow, and no one to proceed, as the romantic songster’s edge proves all the more sharp and entrancing into the bitter core of such creative truths. As on earlier of Sea Wolf albums, such as Leaves in the River, human solitude and the natural wilderness is called forth as tried-and-true inspirations of the sonic thief on his endless road to self-willed freedom: “There is a man inside a room in the forest/He sits alone upon the chair his father left him/In the dark in the dark in the dark with the radio on.”
“People have been responding really well during the acoustic tour, these live concerts only feature about two of the latest songs,” says Church, assuring all listeners, and followers, that the original Sea Wolf sound is, in many ways, untouched, and simply growing, revitalized and charged as ever with a new, impeccable subtlety. Immediately prior to Sea Wolf’s February 21st show at Lambert’s, Austin, Fusion Magazine said his “folk-pop arrangements are perfectly suited to intimate acoustic performances.”
“Old friend come back home/Even though you always were alone,” start the lyrics to Sea Wolf’s opening to Old World Romance, in the absolutely classic verve of a first track, “Old Friend.” “I know you don’t believe me when I believe in you/I know it will get much easier if we want it to,” the chorus repeats with an especially nostalgic twist around the solitary night bend towards the full, heartening beauty of an artistic spirit unknown, now bursting with the tragic smouldering light of our own youthful wondering.
In 1904, the nominal origins of Sea Wolf were born in the mind of American adventurer and author, Jack London, whose sea-faring characters can be heard nudging their way through the dense cartography of the human heart. Listen closely, and in the subtext of Sea Wolf’s rhythmic tempests, as they move and beat over the swaying ocean of the Old World. From the humblest of moments writing tunes in Alex Church’s living room, Sea Wolf has risen from murky waters and foggy coastlines to the smoky call and searing lamps of the international stage.
One of the band’s more evocative songs, which calls out to the old spirit of the Sea Wolf, can be heard in White Water, White Bloom, their second album, where the song, “Orion and Dog” splits like elder salt through the creaking cracks of the ever-voyaging ship that is the sound of Sea Wolf. “Orion said I’m just a humble hunter/The dog the only company I keep/Forgive me if I fear that you will change me/But I’ve seen my fortune written in the leaves,” or ever clearer in the title track, “I’ve felt the cold of the ice and water/Come flowing through as it poured me under.”
By Matt Hanson