Artist and sole Little Wing Kyle Field's output since his "wonder" trilogy (2000's Discover Worlds of Wonder, and The Wonder City and Wonderue, both in 2002) can easily be confused with any of those three. Field has always taken baby steps. His style has range, but the difference between the energy levels of his songs is minimal, and the tunes themselves can all be described as "mellow." The loosely held-together beats have enough of a connectible rhythm among unlistenable elements that often part of what is likable about them is that they are defiantly bad -- or, depending on how you look at it, defiantly Field's own. Soft Pow'r, Little Wing's eighth album in seven years, exemplifies Field's gift for clanky tempos, uncultivated yet endearing singing, and sweeping melodies. But the sonic and instrumental experimentation that set the aforementioned trilogy apart has been pushed aside for a more reserved, slow-paced album.[more:]
Field (who has mostly recorded for K Records, although most recently Marriage Records has been his home) has managed to remain somewhat elusive. But he was hyphen-folk before there was such a thing. Thus, he has managed to show up in Devendra Banhart's entourage on tour and recruited Yacht's Jona Bechtolt for this album. Rather than bringing pop sensibility to the odd world of Field, this version of Little Wings settles for pretty much what the album calls itself. The songs are soft; any power is more revelatory than energetic.
Like his others, Soft Pow'r is a collection of moods rather than songs. The mood most often captured is subdued, and that can only stay interesting for so long. But Field and friends produce intermittent moments of joy, such as the spurts of jazz piano on "Beep About," a wandering track only occasionally finds its groove. The soft bongo drums and gentle guitar on opener "Scuby" play just below Field's quiet, playful voice and beautifully introduce the tone of the album. It doesn't matter that you can't understand or comprehend what is being sung; the elements work together too well.
Soft Pow'r is certainly Little Wings' most musically mature album, a step forward from Grow, the lo-fi mess released in 2005. But it still feels like Field and his friends sitting in a circle playing songs, living out of a Westfalia in the Pacific Northwest. In a way, this is exactly what could be expected.
"Hanta Yo Three" MP3: http://www.krecs.com/html/press/medialisten.php?interest=18
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