Material: Returning to her musical roots after some personal struggles, Alexa Wilding, who the New York Times dubbed “the neo Stevie Nicks,” performed material from her newly released EP Wolves. Songs written while nursing her sick child back to health have yielded a collection that is highly poetic, exploring vulnerability, soul searching and resilience. Somewhere on the spectrum of alternative and indie, Wilding finds expression and a solid niche.
The title track, “Wolves,” deals with the dichotomy of fear versus survival. How do we keep from falling prey to the forces that conspire to consume us?: “What are you gonna do, she’s lookin’ at you, you had so many chances, why oh why can’t you do what the wolves do?” In “Eden,” Wilding grapples with the fallout of being blindsided by life: “I tried to keep you in Eden, I did not know, that even with water, some things do not grow.” Though the hooks don’t jump out at you, the songs are well crafted and catchy in their own right.
Musicianship: Wilding’s voice and delivery are soft sell, no oversinging or pyrotechnics, just straight-ahead communication. Her lower register has a similar tonality to Stevie Nicks, but in the upper range, the quality is lighter and more airy. She’s proficient on guitar and piano, and has surrounded herself with a band that supports her creative nuances, never overshadowing them.
Performance: An artist can be appreciated on many levels. In the case of Wilding, there was the visceral level, which was pleasing, serene and often contemplative. Her stage persona accurately reflects her material while the arrangements were laid-back and accessible. Then there were the songs. From a lyrics standpoint, if you didn’t pay close attention, you might have left scratching your head as these were not chronological story songs or songs with concrete statements. But if you decided to jump into the pool with Wilding, who embodied what she was singing, it was an extremely satisfying experience.
Summary: With a history of intense personal battles that led to this collection of songs, Alexa Wilding has demonstrated that not only can creation come out of conflict, but it can lift us out of a dark place and teach us many important lessons about ourselves and our ability to overcome obstacles. While she does this with somewhat shrouded messages, even if you supply your own interpretation, there is something for the listener to take away.
The Players: Alexa Wilding, vocals, keyboards; Justin Craig, guitar; Jeremy Wilms, bass; Brian Kantor, drums; Christina Ewald, backup vocals.
Photo by Mark Shiwolich
Venue: Rockwood Music Hall
City: New York, NY
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