Natural Child’s latest album Dancin’ With Wolves, which Burger will release Feb. 25, took a little longer to come together, and with good reason. After putting out For The Love Of The Game and recording Hard In Heaven in March and May of 2012, respectively, Natural Child began to crave a more family band-style live sound, inspired by listening Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings while on the road.
“[We were listening to] big bands with a lot of members that would play for like an hour and a half in the ’70s,” says bassist Wes Traylor. “We wanted a live show like that.”
They brought in fellow Nashvillian Luke Schneider to play pedal steel, and to man the keys they recruited Benny Divine out of New Orleans, whom Traylor calls “one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever met” even though he initially resisted joining the band for fear that he wasn’t good enough. For the rest of the year they tightened the new dynamic on stage and, early in 2013, went into the studio to cut Dancin’ With Wolves.
Recording for the first time as a five-piece, Dancin’ With Wolves easily became the most fleshed-out, polished and complete record Natural Child had to their name. The wild spirit is still there on songs like “Saturday Night Blues” and “Firewater Liquor,” but the rough edges have been bevelled. Dancin’ was approached with a greater sense of care and craftsmanship than anything they’d done previously, and when the presence of Schneider’s pedal steel and Divine’s keys are added to the mix, the resultant sound brings to mind Neil Young, Canned Heat, Bob Dylan, The Band and a number of other influences from the ’70s in a way that is far easier to discern.
“We got a lot of things done on that record that we’d been trying to do for a couple of years.” says Traylor.
Listen to Dancin’ With Wolves in its entirety in the player below, and read the rest of Ryan Bort’s Best of What’s Next feature on the band here.