With coronavirus restrictions taking hold of the live music scene for the foreseeable future, it appears we may have to get used to the online livestream. The hustle and bustle of people may be absent but the presence of high-quality sound, lighting and camerawork can help recreate the kind of intimate atmosphere synonymous with the acoustic storytelling of the country, folk and Americana scenes.
This was certainly the case with Wildwood Kin’s ‘Homegrown Sessions’, the first of what promises to be a series of stripped back, live shows from the rustic setting of Higher Eggbeer Farm in Dartmoor, Devon. The alt-folk trio faded onto the screen at 7pm sharp to deliver the first of many beautiful moments under the sanctity of candlelight. Surrounded by pot plants and sat, socially distanced, on three wooden benches, they appeared comfortable and calm as they ambled gently through opening song ‘Wake Up Sleeper’ before continuing the precious harmonies with ‘Circumstance’ and ‘The Crown’.
What I find so captivating about their sound is that it can fill a room yet strike the heart of the individual with the same gentle ferocity. This was exemplified in the songs ‘Steady My Heart’ and ‘Dakota’, the former piercing through the screen with its urgent keyboard and thumping kick-drum, whilst the latter, a Stereophonics cover, reached out its hand and with a warm touch eased my mind of the week’s stresses and strains.
Indeed, their set was marked with a kind of Sunday evening restfulness, ‘Headed for the Water’ inviting us to refresh and recover before the start of another working week. Its focus on the need to stop and breathe is one that has been particularly pertinent during lockdown, when many have found time to reconnect with themselves and their passions. Wildwood Kin were mindful of those who didn’t however, ‘Beauty in Your Brokenness’ feeling like a tribute to those hardworking souls whose efforts, for our sakes, showed the best of humanity in spite of ourselves.
There is such a healing quality to Wildwood Kin’s music, speaking truth and hope with the softest of voices. ‘Never Alone’ was particularly striking in its calm delivery, as was ‘Signals’. Meanwhile, ‘All on Me’ offered encouragement encased in a slightly louder but no less affecting sound. And ‘Taking a Hold’, usually increasingly dramatic as the song goes on, found a greater emphasis placed on the lyrics here as this acoustic set largely reversed the sonic atmosphere often created by the trio to focus on the words and their heartfelt expression. It made ‘The Valley’, one of their most lyrically-excellent songs, all-the-more fitting as the final number, providing the sweetest of endings to this most beautiful of online performances.
Wildwood Kin clearly put a lot of thought and effort into this livestream concert. All credit must go to Jonny Finnows whose operation of the cameras and placement of the lighting made such a difference to the overall experience. Without his creative hand over it, one wonders whether it would have been as affective and immersive. Of course, the harmonic vocals of Wildwood Kin never fail to capture the ear of those listening. But this was also a pleasurable viewing experience that I look forward to engaging in again. And with a Christmas edition potentially on the cards, there won’t be long to wait for another of these ‘Homegrown Sessions’.
By Gaz Williams