Perhaps it stems from a childhood built an hour south of Woodstock, New York, but there is something undeniably kinetic about the combination of springtime and rock. Before men and love were ever issues, and bills were the problems of the professional – in other words, the dead- springtime and upstate New York felt like the tangible and everlasting gift stowed upon a little girl born in the wrong generation.
Natural Child’s newest album, Dancin’ With Wolves, has now replaced my annual visits to Woodstock, taking up residence on my drives up and down I-65. It is the soundtrack that pays homage to that past nostalgia, digging up memories of what it feels like to love rock in its purest state.
Released on February 25 on Burger Records, the album has quickly gained a prime slot in my search for a freewheeling sound, one that replaces the days of wintry introspection with a light and airy, on-the-road vibe. The tracks showcase a matured version of the rock n’ roll trio, rounding out their sound with elements of bluegrass and country a la a 1970’s Waylon.
For this release, Natural Child called in fellow Nashvillian Luke Schneider to play pedal steel on the record, along with New Orlean’s Benny Divine on keys. The additions help to flesh out garage-rock vibes with a subtle tenderness. The album begins with “Out In The Country,” a grooving rock and roll ode to the settling stretches of America. A steady pace allows guitarist Seth Murray’s chops to rise to prominence, and sets the tone of the album as a collaborative and confident work that will undoubtedly translate to live performances. Songs like “Country Hippie Blues” combine the distinctive elements of the Stones’ Some Girls with Neil Young’s Harvest. “I’ve made mistakes and I don’t celebrate ‘em,” Traylor sings. The lyric is emblematic of the ambling, yet secured spirit Dancin’ With Wolves possesses; it’s music for a long and wild road that never falters in self-awareness. The tracks combine the group’s previous rock dedication with the sultry undertones of jazz and the rounded elements of western phrasing. In ways, the album is unapologetic; content shifts from songs about a roaming to eye to love-worn desire, both of which equally encapsulate the vacillating spirit of three rock souls.
Born out of a weed-brownie epiphany, Natural Child symbolizes my favorite sort of musician; they are a group of three men who just decided they would make the “greatest rock n’ roll band in the world,” and then went for it. Touring endlessly for three years, the delivery of their music reflects this down to earth attitude; it encapsulates the idea that sometimes you’ve got to shoot straight, without meandering around the idea that success might fail to sneak up your alley.