The Oklahoma-founded duo of Walking Waves have an odd connection to Independent Clauses; almost exactly 10 years ago, I reviewed an emo track by the band Roma Secrets. That band broke up, but at least one band member remembered that little blog that covered them. Now that I do folk music instead of screamy emo, and THEY do folk music instead of screamy emo, it was a perfect match–again. We all grow up and chill out sometime, I suppose.
But enough preamble! Their self-titled debut album is great, and deserves applause. Leaning toward the soundscape majesty of Bon Iver but still containing the raw beauty of For Emma, Forever Ago, Walking Waves plays like a mythical middle album between the two extremes. The gentle keyboards of “Echo” lull me into a pristine daze; the folky acoustic strum and keening falsetto of “Letter” sound gorgeous in a completely different way. With Bon Iver on hiatus or something, the world could use more pristine-arrangement, maximum-falsetto, fragile-beauty folk bands.
Walking Waves’ disparate sounds hang together by the force of the mood that runs through each track: whether it’s the reverb-laden standout “Nami” or the complex math-rock-influenced guitar work of instrumental “Winterlude,” winter is a theme that persists. This is music for curling up with your significant other and watching it snow. This is music for warm fires and good friends. It’s comfortable, beautiful music that doesn’t ask too much of you but gives way more than that if you pay attention. The layers of sounds throughout are enough to keep me fascinated for a while.
If you’re into acoustic music that can vaguely be called folk, but is really about being beautiful and nostalgic by any means (and/or labels) necessary, then Walking Waves is for you. It’s easy to say they’re Bon Iver followers, but there’s so much more than that in this self-titled debut. This is a wonderful album, and I hope to hear more from Walking Waves in the future.