Rabbit Wilde’s “The Heartland” Exceeds Expectations

by Sonia Calzaretta ’18

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a huge fan of music with an indie folk sound. Songs with haunting harmonies and that twangy banjo/ mandolin combo that reminds me of childhood summers.

Liking this kind of music means that I’ve become pretty proficient at recognizing an indie folk album cover when I see one. “The Heartland” looks exactly like what you’d expect an inside folk album cover to look like: a watercolor painting of a city in purples and grays, blocky band name, cursive album title. It came out in February of this year, so it’s fairly new, and Rabbit Wilde has only been making music since 2014. I found the album when I was walking through the hallway between the WKCO office and the broadcast booth, alphabetized among the hundreds of CDs we have down there. It looked interesting, so I took it home. I’m so glad that I did. The plain cover hides an album of surprising merit, one that I’m sure will be among my favorites for years to come.

The music itself is pretty standard for indie folk, and I can’t say that I always comprehend what’s being sung, but the vocals are upbeat and nice to listen to. If I’m being honest, being able to understand every word isn’t really the point of folky music for me: it’s the sound of the voices, and how they interact with the instruments behind and around them. Rabbit Wilde’s four members all sing at one point or another, so I can’t say for certain whose voice I like best, but they’re all of equal quality and the harmonies are gorgeous.

My favorite song on this album is Summer Hotel, and I think it really exemplifies the best qualities of “The Heartland.” It starts with drums and mandolin, which are soon joined by an alto/treble harmony that blows my mind. It tells a modernized version of the story of Orpheus in the Underworld: “Love is blind, love is cruel / love is wild, takes a man, leaves a fool.” I liked it so much I put it on the country/ folk playlist I played on the radio earlier this semester, and I’d happily put any of the songs on this album on future folk playlists.

All in all, I’d give “The Heartland” a 4 out of 5. The music sound and subject matter aren’t particularly original, but the harmonies are gorgeous and the songs are all really good. It’s better than I expected from an album I found randomly in a poorly-lit basement hallway and definitely merits multiple listenings.

If you like this album, I would recommend “Soldier, Poet, King” by the Oh Hellos, “Heirloom” by Sleeping At Last, “Go Back” by Darlingside and “Run With Me” by Humming House as follow-up songs.

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