Sea Wolf's Old World Romance ended up as my #5 Album of 2012 so I've been anticipating the next release from Alex Brown Church's project. What we have here is the first in a series of experimental albums that Sea Wolf plans to release in between official full length releases. The Song Spells series are to be written and recorded in four month periods between official Sea Wolf studio albums. This 40 minute set was created during the last four months of 2013.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the first series release, Song Spells, No. 1: Cedarsmoke, but I was anticipating a mostly acoustic affair. Although there are a number of acoustic based tracks, this is still a fully fleshed out album, one that Church considers a gift to their fans. I've found oftentimes, "between album projects" tend to be unfocused collections of leftovers or one main concept like all acoustic, but Cedarsmoke finds Sea Wolf exploring both common and new musical ground.
There are a fair share of quieter moments here with Church's vocals never sounding more vulnerable or intimate as they do on mostly acoustic affairs like "Ram's Head" and "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing." "Bergamot Morning" is a punchy track while the instrumental "Cedarsmoke" stuns with its sad cello line. "Cedarsmoke" segues into my favorite track on the album, the beautiful "Young Bodies" which finds Church reminiscing on young love before confessing his feelings have changed about this person with a heartbreaking, "I don't love her anymore."
The album closing "Visions" may be the most adventurous song attempted by Sea Wolf to date. Clocking in at nine minutes, it starts with a minute of mournful strings before jumping into a striking, melodic pop-rock track. It's a spellbinding end to a wonderful album. A "between projects" album that serves as a testament to the talent of Alex Brown Church and his Sea Wolf collaborators.
Favorite tracks: "Young Bodies", "Visions", "Ram's Head", "Cedarsmoke"
Song Spells, No. 1: Cedarsmoke was released July 15, 2014 as a pay as you want digital download only.