By all accounts, Nashville’s The Wild Feathers lit up their hometown’s “Mother Church” Ryman Auditorium with the same red-hot, hell-bent energy as when they set saloons ablaze down around the corner on honky-tonk row. But it’s the subtleties and nuances in their performances that sets the band apart. They’ve made some waves opening for the likes of Dylan and Willie Nelson, but somehow still fly under the international radar. That’s simply wrong, given the impressiveness displayed throughout this 10-year career-spanning collection of previously unreleased gems.
Recorded at various points in and around The Wild Feathers’ three studio albums and one live set (from the Ryman), each one of these dazzling songs radiates different aspects of their harmony-rich, Southern-fried, and West Coast-inspired ways with country, rock and Americana-pop.
Covid-19 sidelined The Wild Feathers’ planned summer tour with The Allman Betts Band and Blackberry Smoke. These 11 re-cooked “Medium Rarities,” served on a 33 1/3 vinyl platter and for download at thewildfeathers.com, are intended to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary, and maintain a presence in the public eye until they release their next studio album, currently in production.
“Medium Rarities” takes flight on a luminous interpretation of the Jayhawks’ “Blue,” recorded a decade ago, when the band first came together. It strikes a perfect balance between rugged and velvety-rich heartland rock music, the melody enhanced by the glorious harmony singing of leaders Ricky Young, Joel King and Taylor Burns. “Heartbreak” then kicks it up, the whorl of strident singing, and dusty, glittery, and crunchy guitar notes all together demonstrating a rock-solid and dead-on affinity for Dwight Twilley and Tom Petty. Alternately, guided by Ben Dumas’ clockwork drumming, the jangly melody of “Lose Yourself” drifts in uniquely imaginative ways, albeit with a little Crazy Horse surely kicking behind it.
Resurrecting David Gates’ 1972 adult contemporary hit “The Guitar Man” by his band Bread, The Wild Feathers strip the song down and re-adorn it in wide-open, psychedelic hues, every aspect of the result as heady as a psilocybin trip. But sliding in comfortably right after that comes “After the Bottle’s Gone,” the band members erupting into a joyous sing-along while playing loose, acoustic, countrified blues.
Despite wearing many of their inspirations proudly on their sleeves, The Wild Feathers’ own songs are all distinctive, and quite riveting. Three brand-new ones, recorded in 2019, form the centerpiece of the album. They reveal a band evolving, becoming at once comfortable, and bold. Driving steadily through the modern rock landscape, “Fire” aims for a radio-friendly hit, and may just land there. “Goodnight” goes much further, its soaring harmonies and gentle, luxurious tug familiar but also very promising for the exceptionality that’s likely in store. “Medium Rarities” was my introduction to The Wild Feathers, and I am completely hooked.
- The Wild Feathers
- ‘Medium Rarities’
- Release: Nov. 20, 2020
- Website: www.thewildfeathers.com