Esmé Patterson brings sweet joy to We Were Wild

We Were WildThe world could use a few more Esmé Pattersons. On her last outing, 2014's Woman To Woman, the Denver songwriter built a record around one simple concept: the right-to-reply of some of pop's most iconic (yet slandered) female characters, from Billie Jean to Jolene. It's one of those ideas that's so simple and radical at the same time, you immediately wonder how it hadn't already been done to death. Supposedly, the whole thing was recorded in a day. For new record We Were Wild, Patterson's own voice returns to centre stage, and the results carry an insidious charm of their own.

It's what you might call a grower, you see, which I've learned over the years often just means that the best tracks are nearer the back, and that they're not quite what you were expecting at the time. For my part, I'm sure I was expecting something less frenetic than "Feel Right" to bolt out of the gates, the opening bars offering a pace that wouldn't sound out of place on a Joanna Gruesome 7". In fact, it's only when "Guadalupe" ushers in some gently strummed minor chords that the album begins to come into focus. "Peace ain't far, it's in your heart," she sings, and for the first time, you realise the record is tinged with a sadness that stands at odds with the rest of the material here. Certainly there have been countless records exploring those melancholies to a folky, Americana backdrop; this year alone, Laura GibsonLissie, and Basia Bulat have all made produced documents to that effect. And yet...

And yet there's something more precocious - a little wilder, if you will - at work here, a growl hiding behind a pearly-white grin. By the time you reach the yelled joy of "Wild" and "Yours and Mine" it's clear that, beyond any anxieties that may surface, We Were Wild is simply one of the happiest albums you'll hear all year. It should have been obvious right from the bluesy skitter of "No River" and its simple refrain: "I'm human, I'm human." In any other context, those words should come across as a surrender, a confession of frailty. Spilling out of Esme Patterson, it almost sounds like a boast.

Release: 10th June 2016, Grand Jury Music


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