Awake is without a doubt the most fitting name for Folly & the Hunter’s latest album. The incomparably gorgeous title track is deserving of a review itself. The track features swelling strings and an upbeat piano riff, uncharacteristic of Folly & the Hunter. Hopeful lyrics from Nick Vallee claiming that despite fear, “I’m staying right here,” set the tone for this album – optimistic, cathartic, and beautiful. It sounds like the soundtrack to a personal epiphany.
‘The Way We Are’ is the perfect summation of Awake. The tech-y percussive beat shapes the more pop syndicated sound. Nick Vallee offers up his solo vocals, at times a lovely tenor, and occasionally a dark and sweet falsetto. This balances the album’s rounder, vibrant sound on other tracks, such as ‘Breathe’ and ‘Duisberg’, which feature an unexpected, but welcome, horn section. It wouldn’t be a Folly & the Hunter album without the harmonies for which they are known. 2013’s indie-folk treasure Tragic Care offered subtle, simple compositions, but the harmonies on Awake diverge from that subtlety entirely. The previous simple harmonies are replaced by the warm, yet melancholy blend of voices, creating a new complexity and depth for Folly & the Hunter.
This is best exemplified on the bright and hopeful track, ‘Travelling’. While Awake still contains much of the haunting, delicate, and atmospheric attitude from Tragic Care, it demonstrates a jump to a richly textured, deeply felt, warm, folk-pop album. It could be because the Montreal-based trio added a fourth band member, Phil Creamer, on this album. Or, it could be that this album was recorded at Toronto’s Revolution Studios with Howie Beck, who has produced albums for the likes of Feist and Hannah Georgas.
Vallee best accounts for the major shift from Tragic Care’s heartbreak sound to Awake’s cathartic optimism on the track ‘Lose that Light’, as he sings “You can mourn but don’t let it take you out / even if it gets hard / don’t lose that light.” I look forward to what Folly & the Hunter will do with this newfound “light” on future records.
Words: Haley Velletri