Released February 3, 2023
Review by Roy Peak
This review is another crossover review with The Rocking Magpie. They have plenty more good stuff, so scoot on over there after you read this!
More Music Magic From One of Americana's Most Prolific Artists
To get the full meaning of the title of Afton Wolfe's latest release you have to go to the man himself: "The number 23 is Magic, and as such, it has been significant in my musical journey, so my delusional apophenia led me to release these 5 (2+3) songs together on 2.3.23 for the purpose of conjuring all the Magic I possibly could from this Music.” Is music magic? It most definitely can be and Wolfe conjures up five songs on this EP that fits the bill.
Twenty-Three is the ever so prolific Wolfe's most introspective collection of songs yet, with an expansive production by Brett Ryan Stewart of Wirebird Productions. Stewart's production, brings these country and rock tunes into jazz territory, adding extra dimension to a handful of already excellent songs.
“Cry” starts out with a chord progression we’ve all heard a thousand times before, which is kind of the point. The set up before the sucker punch of Wolfe’s throaty lyrics hits you square in the face. Voices like Wolfe's are sometimes described as "rough" or "like sandpaper" but on "Cry" his voice becomes likes electricity itself—downed power-lines, arcing and snapping at the air, unrestrained and crackling. It's always nice to hear someone let loose in the studio, and "Cry" is a great album opener because of it.
“The Moon Is Going Down” is a waltz-time ballad with subtle piano and woodwinds to convey a dreamtime romance, while "Truck Drivin' Man" is a funeral march through a nightmare landscape.
Wolfe has long been genre-fluid, and on Twenty-Three he stretches out a bit even more. Wolfe's studio band gets after hours funky on "Purple," while "Late Nite Radio" explores the throes of a dying and possibly dead relationship with a wish for solace in the shared universe of the airwaves.
Wolfe has been busy of late, emceeing the yearly Tom Waits Tribute shows in Nashville, and playing at the 2023 Tropic of Cancer Music and Arts Festival in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he's already planning that next music release. Watch for it.
Twenty-Three is available on all those usual streaming services and at aftonwolfe.com
Roy Peak has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville. Roy writes music reviews for the Rocking Magpie among others. Check him out on bandcamp.com
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