Album review: Eagle & the Wolf

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I fell in love with the eponymous debut album Eagle & the Wolf on first listening. Then I listened to it about fifty more times just to make sure. All that listening later, my love for it is actually stronger.

This may be a debut album but the duo that is Eagle & the Wolf are no debutantes. Sarah Humphreys has released three albums of her own. Her voice is at once an instrument of growling power and honeyed sweetness. Kris Morris has been busy forging his own country and blues career; Kasey Chambers produced his album Ruins (and also produced Humphreys’s third album, New Moon).

Humphreys and Morris have formed a personal and musical connection that is immediately obvious in their music. Their voices dance with each other and never joust. Their sounds marry and balance, both vocally and instrumentally. Their respective lineages in country, roots and blues are obvious, and they also clearly know how to blend them so that they bring out the best in each other.

The moods of this album are various and consequently the album never feels stuck or flat. The opening track, ‘Mama, Son & the Holy Ghost’, sounds like a call to arms. It is more swampy than the rest of the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great opener to the album, sounding, as it does, like a declaration of intent. Much of this album sounds like an exploration of loneliness and loss experienced and overcome, and of love and communion. 

Humphreys and Morris share lead vocals on some songs and alternate on others. But always the other is there. There is so much courage in these songs – in the lyrics and in the way they are sung. Morris and Humphreys sound like they are singing only to each other, and accordingly the listener feels like they’re witnessing something incredibly intimate – and beautiful.

This album is moving, thrilling and satisfying, and a real artistic triumph. If this is what this pair can produce on their first outing, it is exciting to contemplate what may come next.

Eagle & the Wolf is out now.
eagleandthewolf.com

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