Wilhelm offers up a stunning debut in his new LP
Lo-fi singer/songwriter Wilhelm offers up a stunning debut in his new LP, Lace, which has got critics abuzz across the country and abroad right now. Lace is both unapologetically harsh and understatedly melodic, particularly in songs that amalgamate punk elements with a more traditional folk template. The last five years have left a lot to be desired among American singer/songwriters, but in this incredible virgin studio session, we find an artist that isn’t afraid of touching on experimental grounds while simultaneously paying homage to the broadminded individuals and bands that paved the way for his success today.
The real star of Lace is undeniably its first single, “Carpet,” which affords us perhaps the most vulnerable look at Wilhelm as a songwriter. Lyrically speaking, “Carpet” is quite enigmatic and riddled with multi-interpretive poeticisms that could apply to the inconsolable and brokenhearted just as easily as it could the passionate lover caught in the throes of a fiery romance. All of its contradictions aside, what sets this track so far apart from the others in Lace isn’t its fascinating style of prose, but moreover its meticulously arranged string melody, which digs its hook into our chest and stays with us long after the music has ceased to play.
Wilhelm’s guitar sweeps across the backend of this song like a ghost in the night. It’s always there, always watching us, and yet it’s never completely present in the master mix. The mix itself is flawless, unclouded and free of the muddiness that has become standard in post-2000’s lo-fi, but that doesn’t prevent the string harmony from concealing itself behind the verses as much as possible here. Because of its supernatural-inspired sonic blueprint, “Carpet” never fails to raise every hair on the back of my neck, regardless of how many times I listen to it.
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This melancholic vocal makes the words feel so much weightier than they would have otherwise, and I think that it’s only through Wilhelm’s emotive drawl that we’re able to understand and appreciate the full context of their narrative in the song. “Carpet” isn’t a cut and dry pop ballad, nor is it a case of spoken word commentary skewed with an acoustic guitar’s plaintive tune; this is an urbane strain of folk music that not only demands a reaction out of its listeners, but moreover, challenges us to think about what we’re listening to from both the composer’s perspective as well as our own.
If you enjoy an unprocessed piece of angular musical magic, then you’re going to be in for a real treat with “Carpet” and all eleven of the tracks that comprise Wilhelm’s awesome album Lace. Though 2019 has been introducing us to some sublimely addictive acoustic records – from The Brothers Union’s Silhouettes EP to newcomers The Stifftones’ sterling new track “Midwestern Town” – there’s no debate as to whether or not Lace is in the top tier of American folk output this summer. “Carpet” is a fair sampling of what you’ll encounter on the LP, and it definitely makes for a terrific debut single for Wilhelm.
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