There is a rare mix of childhood and maturity when the Wilderness of Manitoba sing. Their voices are sweet, soft and innocent like a child’s but the laying, harmonizing and detail they put in each song is something that could come only with experience. The band sounds like what you would expect a band called the Wilderness of Manitoba to sound like – breezy, outdoorsy and natural, singing about love and the outdoors and their love for the outdoors. It’s beautiful.
Island of Echoes is the bands newest release. It sounds like the soundtrack to a picnic in October. The songs are poetically crafted by Will Whitwam, the band’s lead vocalist, who’s name even sounds like that of a poet. More upbeat and powerful than some of their earlier music, Island of Echoes is a perfect example of where the genre of folk is going.
“Morning Sun,” the second song on the 13 song album comes after a brief, and relatively underwhelming, instrumental opening track. Perfectly harmonized, it is vaguely reminiscent of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire, it has a steady drum kick and could almost be called a rock song. “Echoes,” which comes next, makes me want to cry. It pairs drums with plucked strings in the most delicate of ways. “Golden Thyme” is slower and more dream-like with harps and woodwinds, but what would you expect from a song called “Golden Thyme.”
Near the end comes “Glory Days,” a kick-drum driven track about reuniting with someone you love and just being happy about it. If you knew the Wilderness of Manitoba before, this album can be your “Glory Days,” you reuniting with someone you knew before and falling in love all over again.
Just because the Wilderness of Manitoba picked up the pace on their new album, they certainly did not forget how to make a classic, melodic folk song. There are hints of folk in each cut because at heart, the Wilderness of Manitoba is truly a folk band. Their new album didn’t steer away from folk – it just steered it in a new, possibly better, direction.