(Photo Credit: Mimi Raver)
We had the opportunity to get advance access to Will Fox's debut full-length, Which Way, which drops on July 12, 2019 with Two Syllable Records! We also had the opportunity to interview Will for an Artist Spotlight. Special thanks to Girlie Action Media for getting us advance access to his album. Check out our track by track review and our interview with Will below!
Advance Review - Will Fox - Which Way
"Waiting" instantly evokes comps to Elliot Smith, but at a higher vocal register. "Waiting" is wonderfully placed with Fox's vocals taking main stage. Though there is some great guitar on display throughout the track. Vocals here are strong as well. It's a beautifully done track. "A Good Friend's Handshake" has its roots based in classic folk and Americana. It evokes comps to what Simon & Garfunkel would sound like if they were in their prime today. While folk-like in it's sound, it does produce a sense of an atmospheric sound that surrounds the listener, a warmth that wraps you up. This is heavily supported by Fox's vocals.
"Against the Tide" again takes a classic sound to it, it would feel perfectly at home in the 70's, but it has a bit of a twist to it that very much makes it relevant today. This is an homage to the past grounded in the present. "No Stranger" again keeps the Americana roots alive in Fox's music. Vocally, I'm reminded of Fleet Foxes on this one. There's also something almost psychedelic about the vocals here that evoke comps to Pink Floyd's work on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Simply brilliant.
In "Coming Around", Fox again mixes the alt-folk with the ethereal experience with the track. Particularly in the vocals which provide an atmospheric sense about them. They envelop the listener much in the way The Beatles vocals slower stuff did. "Which Way" stands out from the rest of the tracks by far as it is the most straightforward. It seems to have an alt-country sound that borders on Wilco's faster music. This is get up and go stuff here. I absolutely dug the hook, the melody supported the vocals so well.
"Morning in LA" is a slower tune that again evokes comps to The Beatles for me. Vocally it's Lennon, musically it's George. It has a slight twang to it that absolutely hinges between folk and something altogether different. I absolutely love it. "Wild Mint" is another slower tune, that musically is firmly in alt-folk territory, particularly through the use of guitar transition. It does a great job of shifting from verse to verse adding a new element to the melody, which keeps the sound unique. It's well worth your time.
"I Know" again brings it down with acoustic guitar and vocals that are isolated. The song builds at the end with dynamic vocals and guitars that very much close the song out on a high note. "Down the Road" features light acoustic guitar work done mostly through finger picking. Fox's vocals here are hushed, but ever-present over the melody. The song is gentle, it's a soft landing for the album that features some of the best comps I've probably ever given.
Closing Thoughts - Will Fox has got a sound that takes a little bit of the legendary (think The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, Elliot Smith, and Wilco) and puts his own spin on it. It's a new sort of alt-folk which very much utilizes roots of 60's and 70's music rather than blues or country. It's delicate, atmospheric, and surreal all at the same time. It engulfs you in sound and vocals and you can't help but respond. I absolutely dug where this was coming from and what Fox did with it. If you're a fan of alt-folk or classic folk/psychedelia you gotta give this one a shot.
Rating - 4/5
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"My mom pushed me to play the piano at a very young age, 8 or 9 years old. Then I took up the cello a few years later. I think that may have been the first time I connected with an instrument; I had a really great instructor who was kind and passionate, which is so important... I got my first guitar when I was 12, got bit by the rock & roll bug and wanted to play the songs I actually listened to. I wrote my first songs at age 13 in the vein of alkaline trio and blink 182. In high school I became more serious about it and started taking lessons with the instructor at my high school, James Wilson, he’s an incredible guitarist and a wonderful dude. He opened my mind to new genres, jazz, folk, classic rock, bossa nova, and really fueled my creative endeavours, which I can’t thank him enough for. I also bought my first recording equipment in high-school, and recorded tons of instrumental stuff, layers and layers of finger-picking guitar, I became obsessed with folk music, and listened to a bunch of John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Nick Drake, Dylan and Donovan. Long story short, thanks mom."
2. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Oh man, early on it was Nick Drake, Wilco, Animal Collective, Andrew Bird. Over the last few years I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young, George Harrison, Roy Harper, Big Star, Radiohead."
3. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I have a 1973 Guild D-35 acoustic that I bought at “Old Style” guitars in Los Angeles, an incredible little boutique used and vintage guitar shop. I also have a 1972 Custom Heritage Gibson, that’s relatively new. There’s nothing like a guitar that’s been played for 40 or 50 years, it can be an expensive hobby, but these two guitars have treated me very well."
4. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"So far I’ve been playing a lot of solo sets, although for a while my buddy Matt Schuessler was playing the upright bass with me, which added a some nice depth and rhythm to the acoustics, he’s also an unbelievably good player. But over the last year it’s been a pretty intimate show, I’d like to think the songs are pretty vocally driven, and try to sing the songs as I would if I was sitting in the corner of my bedroom. The best kind of venue for me is one that sets up a space for the audience to lose themselves. In the end it’s my job to captivate the audience above the sound of chattering at the bar, if I can continue to do that I’ll be happy."
5. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"I’m releasing my first full length, Which Way on July 12th through Two Syllable Records! It’s a dream come true really, can’t wait to hold that vinyl in my hands."