Split Lip Reviews The Wilderness
By Elysia Smith
Nashville based singer and song writer, k.s. Rhoads has recently returned to the record-making business bearing the fresh fruit of his composing and performing labor. His new album, The Wilderness departs from his original stylings—soaring classical juxtaposed with pop melodies and hints of folk in the vocals—to a new, jangly world. While still maintaining the type of swell that made his last album, Dead Language, so startling, Rhoads brings to fruition a new sound that harkens more toward artists like Dr. Dog, Radical Face, and Why?. However, the vocal performance changes to what I can only call a pure rock-meets-motwon tone when before he’d resembled more so the lighter sound of Ben Folds or Patrick Monahan.
One of Rhoads’ most recognizable traits is the ability to diversify his albums. In listening, it’s hard to compare one song to another despite them
making use of the same musical blends. Rhoads composes in such a way it seems to keep the listener on the edge of their seats. It is in this manner that Rhoads creates something that I believe will help him in maintaining longevity as an artist. There are three songs on this latest album that especially demonstrate this musical singularity and those are The Harvest, Orphaned, and Chains.
Both The Harvest and Orphaned soar and utilize his classical training. But they differ heavily on the mood cultivated in listening. The Harvest has the call and response feel of a hymn, but keeps hip and modern in the beat underlying the lifting vocals. Orphaned, on the other hand, questions human condition in a conversational way. It’s a message song intended to promote solidarity.
Analysis aside, I really enjoyed listening to this album. It reminds me of a bike ride. The dreamy altitude each song ascends made me wish for whirring sunlight and the click of a chain moving me through an afternoon. It’s an album for drives, windows down and iced tea on the horizon. It’s a work that’s meant to unite in only the way a sunny day can. Thus I say, despite a completely new get-up, Rhoads has managed to deliver an album complete and unblemished as the season’s first peach.