“Gimme that thing” he gruffly said after I tried miserably to play John Denver‘s ‘Fly Away’. It’s no secret that I’ve got twinky fingers that are as fast as a duck waddling in molasses, but I think I failed the great Denver this time.
His name is Eric Pollard and he released two EPs under the name Actual Wolf. Then something happened and now he has a band and a new album, also titled Actual Wolf. A stint in Low and Retribution Gospel Choir carry no clear musical imprint in the sound of Actual Wolf, even if that Americana/Country sound is very present in the primordial acids that make said acts become extremely catchy, even when they depart this realm into transdimensional jam sessions.
The rest of the band appears out of nowhere and they take it away. ‘Kerosene & Spark’ starts slow; sweeping chords fill the once empty, now full dive bar, where the world weary and the wide eyed are united under the banner of confusion. It matters not, the music is taking away those bad moments, with a slightly Sun Kil Moon indebted track like ‘Let it go’ (which includes a chunky distortion solo) and the more slow-paced, expansive sounds like the ones America once made (‘Do you still want me to’, ‘The Lucky one’.)
Of course, there’s a clear love for that music forged in the dry desert roads of the good ol’ USA: country. What better example than the foot stompin’ roar of ‘Victims + things’? Or the more laid back ‘1,000 eyes’? Now, it may sound from this that there’s no clear moment when this music turns fierce. My argument against said lie is ‘Hydrant eyes’, the song that made embrace Actual Wolfwith open arms. Again, without comparing too much, the spirit of Red House Painters breathes strong here, with Actual Wolf creating an expansive song that is allowed to breathe like a fine wine, with our tastebuds being the clear winners in this “yeah, this should be in a driving mixtape” track.
One of the best moments in the film Training Day involves a discussion on moral grey areas. It narrows down “To protect the sheep, you gotta take down the wolf and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf…” Somewhere, in these mostly acoustic songs, you can feel that Eric Pollard decided to howl as hard as he can and confront all those sheep that hound our dreams and hopes with a hootin’ rebel yell.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López.