Release Date: Mar 4, 2014
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Alternative Folk
Fellow PopMatters reviewer Darryl G. Wright, in appraising Wake Owl’s debut 2013 EP, Wild Country, wrote some words in his piece that turned out to be extremely prophetic: “When Wake Owl do release a full length record, I expect it will be very, very well received.” Well, it’s now a year later, and Wake Owl have fulfilled their promise with a full length that is, in a word, astonishing. Wake Owl is the work of one man named Colyn Cameron who splits his time between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Portland, Oregon – though, on his debut full-length as Wake Owl, The Private World of Paradise, he employs the talents of multi-instrumentalist Aiden Briscall to flesh things out.
Is it unfair to expect from a full-length debut what was promised on the EP? Wake Owl's Wild Country EP was a stunner, a fresh and flawless collection of build-and-sway arena-folk that was easily among the best EPs of 2013. The Vancouver/Portland band return with The Private World of Paradise exploring new territory and offering up a new sound. Apparently a lot can happen in a year, but the band inhabit the new space as if they've been there all along.Wake Owl's core members, Colyn Cameron and Aiden Briscall, have teamed up with producer Richard Swift (the Shins, Foxygen, Damien Jurado, among others) and his influence is immediately felt.
Up until now, it seemed pretty safe to categorize Vancouver's Wake Owl as a folk act, but the sounds on their debut full-length are very far from the soft acoustic strumming and overall tweeness of their 2012 EP, Wild Country. It's a major risk to change so much so early in a career, but the gamble has paid off with an album that's not only far more difficult to label, but also much more sonically rich than anyone anticipated. Where Wild Country felt very much like the one-man project of Colyn Cameron, Wake Owl now sound like a full band, thanks in part to producer Richard Swift, who brought elements of 60s pop and 50s R&B into the mix.
Wake OwlThe Private World of Paradise(Vagrant)3 out of 5 stars Vancouver singer/songwriter Colyn Cameron, better known under his perofming name Wake Owl, made an auspicious debut with his 2011 Wild Country EP, showcasing the kind of dreamy indie folk that drew listeners to bands like Grizzly Bear and Local Natives in years past. With his first proper full-length, The Private World of Paradise, that — at first glance — hasn’t changed much, with first track “Days in the Sea” blending acoustic strums and a pleasant sheen of reverb. But it doesn’t take long for the focus to shift a bit, as second track “Candy” steps a few decades backward into the 1970s, taking a heavy influence from string-laden Chicago soul and quiet storm sounds.