An audible weather cycle set to experimental folk.
Ethan Woods’ “Burnout” is a curious album. It is set around the idea of a sun passing through the clouds and setting in the evening and Ethan creates a weather and field recording system that works in the background of his folk music. This is a great idea and well executed, although the songs put upfront don’t quite land as well for me as the idea does in theory.
“Burnout” has lots of good ideas and they all culminate in the album’s centrepiece “Porch Talk (Sandy Mush Version)”. This nine-minute track is a lazy folksy number with rolling guitars, pianos and a dusty drone to it that lets Ethan’s clean and light vocals fly. It holds a meditative space that works well. Other tracks, such as opening vinyl emulating “Mrs. Moo” and the brassy cabaret folk “Say Goodnight My Light” drown Woods’ vocals a bit. Ethan is often teetering on the edges of atonal to the musicality of his songs and I’m not sure it always works.
More positive examples include the wooden rustic folk number “Utopia Limited (Cuddly Tie-In)” which attacks happiness in a gloriously overtly blissed-out tune. “Working Zero” is more psych-folk and so Ethan Woods’ vocal delivery hits really well here as crazy synths warble and wax over the acoustic rock band. “Chirin’s Bell” also has a hazy distant sunset turning to night feel to it. Of course, all of this is rounded off with crickets and night animal life buzzing around you in the background. It’s part of what makes the album feel unique.
Whilst not all the tracks landed for me, I can see fans of atmospheric folk and acoustic-driven concept albums that play with field recordings gelling with it. Ethan Woods clearly has a great ear for well-rounded soundscapes as his recordings from the Appalachians are used here to fantastic effect. Some vocal redirection could see him produce a wonderful follow up in the future.
Recommended track: Utopia Limited (Cuddly Tie-In)
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