Rabbit Wilde - The Heartland
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The Heartland (Self-released, 2016)

Rabbit Wilde

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

Rabbit Wilde's affinity for authentic Americana is all too obvious, and if dubbing their new album "The Heartland" wasn't evidence enough, the joyful stomp that drives nearly all of these songs ought to make that apparent. Based in Bellingham Wash., the band traces its origins back only three years, but in the time since their formation, they've recorded a sterling debut, "The Wild North," and a stellar EP, "Southern Winters." Having covered the two geographic extremes, they're now settling for middle ground, a place where the roots of American music are planted deepest and where the pluck of a banjo and the stomp of handclaps and knee slaps is all that's needed to create a decided impression.

Of course, there's nothing really new about a band that takes its cue from the heartland. Americana music has never been more in demand or more readily available. So, it's imperative that a group can bring its enthusiasm to bear, showing both love and commitment to the cause.

In essence, that's what Rabbit Wilde offers here, a set of songs brimming with the kind of honest to goodness excitement and exhilaration that propelled their forebears to make music in the first place. With the exception of the final track, the slow and subdued "Easy Dear (The Light)," every one of these songs is marked by an effusive energy and an unapologetic sound of celebration.

The amiable plunk and ramble of songs such as "Gold," "Daughter of the Sun," "Summer Hotel," "Jackson, WY" and "Howl" not only move these songs along at an accelerated clip, but also coax their listeners into trying to keep up. Even the more considered songs - those that bear a furrowed brow along with some obvious serious intent - help maintain the momentum and carry the music forward. If a contemplative tune like "Wolf & Whiskey" or the brief blues of "The Long Way Down" seem somewhat out of step, they still keep pace with the proceedings.

Ultimately, "The Heartland" is the kind of album that can illuminate a Saturday night and even add some respite to recovery during the morning after. The Rabbit Wilde hops along convincingly and is, dare we say, chock full of frisky finesse.

CDs by Rabbit Wilde

The Heartland, 2016 Southern Winters, 2015

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