The Winterlings’ pensive musings and sedate soundscapes are further illuminated on You Are Acres, a gorgeous follow-up to their stunning debut The Animal Groom, the album which found Amanda Birdsall and Wolff Bowden embarking upon their maiden musical voyage. Nevertheless, it’s been a full five years since that initial effort. Having become fully acclimated to the idyllic environs of the Pacific Northwest (where they relocated after first meeting in Florida), they’ve melded their sonorous tones with the dreamy imagery captured in the photos that adorn the album art inside and out.
In the press materials accompanying the album, Birdsall claims their inspiration for the album was “about being connected to a place, to a piece of land,” and indeed it’s easy to imagine these songs rising from the ether and drifting lazily across those northern peaks. In a general sense, the music brings the usual comparisons – Shovels & Rope, the Innocence Mission, something that might be heard in the music made for the television series Nashville – especially given the lovely harmonies and the delicate interplay of instruments and ideas. The two contributed equally to the arrangements, dabbling in such diverse accompaniment as guitar, violin, banjitar, ukulele, harmonium, piano and foot percussion, and then adding fiddle and trumpet as occasional additives.
Yet for all the cacophony that might imply, You Are Acres provides a serene series of soundscapes, softly burnished with melodious intent. Songs such as “Opening Line,” “Happy With Hunger,” “Acres,” and “Father I” offer ideal examples of genuine folk finesse, flush with melancholia and a guarded upward gaze. The smooth strum and supple glide of “When We Were Young,” and the plucked banjo and hand-clapping rhythm of “While We Were Sleeping” add further fuel to the set list, but it’s a determined stance and shimmering melodies that resonate overall, making You Are Acres sound as expansive as its title implies.
Granted, in today’s ricochet world, albums of this kind don’t always capture attention, especially owing to the fact that a sedate sounds generally tend to quickly fade from the fore. Regardless, Winterlings’ new record resonates well, making for a magnificent respite.