It takes fairly sizable and sturdy cajones to assemble a rarities collection when your decade-long history includes just three studio albums and a live set. In the case of the Wild Feathers, it bears mentioning that, during that same evolutionary decade, the roots rockers opened for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, so the size and brassiness of their balls is hardly in question.
As it happens, the band has owned up to the fact that "Medium Rarities" only exists because the early Covid restrictions derailed their planned opening tour with Blackberry Smoke, and they needed a project to occupy their relatively endless free time. That being said, the band could have tossed together a collection of sonic barrel scrapings and called it a day, but they've done a deep dive into their archive for "Medium Rarities" and found a handful of great covers, B-sides and demos and added a trio of brand new songs to create an album that stands with the best of their catalog.
Take album opener "Blue" for instance; originally recorded at the outset of their career, the Feathers tracked the cover of The Jayhawks' hit for their label as proof of their harmonic range and skills. Although the band followed the general architecture of "Blue," the Feathers put their unique stamp on the song by injecting fierce and adamant emotion into the original's plaintive and melancholy atmosphere. "Marie" also dates to the sessions for the Feather's eponymous 2010 debut, but didn't make the disc's setlist and was relegated to B-side status; the track, a laid back reflection of a struggling songwriter, is a stand out in this collection.
Highlights abound from the scorching cover of David Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" and, like "Blue," a faithful yet incrementally more forceful version of Bread's "Guitar Man," to a solid slate of originals, including the Tom Pettyesque floorboard stomp of "Heartbreak" and the rousing Jayhawks-meets-Neil Young honky tonk swing of album closer "After the Bottle's Gone." The three new songs, "Fire," "Goodnight" and "My Truth," are mid-tempo ballads smouldering with a quiet intensity that showcases the Wild Feathers' maturation and growth over the past 10 years, and offers an excited glimpse into what we can expect from the new music the band is working on for the coming new year.