River Whyless all but tore up the stage at Newport Folk Festival, in a flurry of fiddle and sing-along harmonies that brought an entire tent to its feet. No wonder their energy level was up – they’ve got a new record to be excited about, and it’s a record that reminds you why you fell for them in the first place. The Asheville foursome has a blast on We All the Light, playing with quirky instrumental arrangements, but highlighting that soft folksy sound they’ve perfected.
We All the Light is made up of music that is just as fun to listen to on your commute as it is in the crowd at Fort Adams. It’s eclectic and visual, retro and cool. The group strays from that traditional folk aesthetic, instead creating their own. And though it doesn’t limit itself to any genre, it might be best described as folk pop. “All Day All Night” is a playful, almost tribal beauty that showcases the band’s sharp instincts for harmony, as well as a seriously dark violin melody. It is a rich song, with layers upon layers of sounds to discover as you listen.
River Whyless’ sound has matured. They’re exploring new territory, unafraid of the confines of boundaries, jumping outside the lines, and embracing the unexpected. A mellow song like “Kalangala” gets atmospheric, almost tropical sounding accents that may give you that infectious feeling of aspirational freedom. And “Moth” listens like a whimsical fairytale, feathery and light as air. “Falling Son” is otherworldly, bright and warm.
There’s an element of magic to the songs on We All the Light that elevate them from just another folk pop album to a much richer work, packed with intricacies that keep you on your toes as you listen.