Anyone vaguely familiar with Little Wings’ discography–over a decade’s worth of Kyle Field’s soulful folk, awash with honesty and earthen, California warmth–should find themselves initially well-adjusted within the grooves of his latest effort, Black Grass. Though once you peel through the first listen, you’ll begin to notice the low, grey weight that looms above much of this recording–one that doesn’t quite plague its predecessors. Best likened to the phenomenon of June on the fabled Golden shores, Black Grass is bathed in a marine layer that rarely burns off.
And perhaps it is truly an issue of seasonal depression. The album’s content is wrought with images of fall, the season in which Field penned it; trees rain leaves and light lays dying, and once caught in the throes of those vicious Circadian rhythms, the only direction for the human psyche is inward. In fact, you can hear this searching introspection quite beautifully in the track “Mr. Natural,” wherein Field sings quietly to himself–as if hesitant about his foray into the song’s verse, or trying to remember how it goes–just before he begins. It’s an undeniably vulnerable moment, and certainly lends to the humanity of the record.
However, one cannot remain mired in their own head for too long, and with such cerebral moments comes intermittent periods of tenacity. “I Grow Too” is pulsed by subwoofer-worthy bass and a mischievous piano line over which Field unleashes a strong falsetto, while “How Come” unfolds into an explosive chorus of voices, with Field fitfully addressing the injustices of life in between in beautiful and memorable tercets–“All that I see/All that is apart of me/Turns into the past eventually.”
Notably, this song also contains the lyrics from which the record’s title is derived; “We’ve painted all the grass blades black.” To this allusion, Field offers a multitude of descriptions: “[‘Black Grass’ is] the ground at night, the ground when you are face down on it in a state of debilitation, depression, submission, humility. Or, it is the past…” With that onslaught of words, a sputtering of human conditions to which all can relate, Black Grass‘ smog lifts a bit higher, and visibility becomes more with each listen.