Oakley Hall

I'll Follow You

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Brooklyn-based but Southern-inspired, recent Merge signees Oakley Hall hit the ground running with their fourth full-length, I'll Follow You, an album that, while still rooted in the alt-country/Americana that the band has made a name for itself with -- the picked electric and acoustic guitars, banjos, the violin, the folk harmonies of Pat Sullivan and Rachel Cox -- shows more of the bandmembers' Northern inclinations than any of their previous efforts. It's not that Oakley Hall has changed their sound; songs like "Angela" and the slow, cascading opener, "Marine Life," could have come from any of their earlier albums, but as the record progresses, the group stretches farther and farther toward the edges of their sphere of influence. "Best of Luck" could almost be played on country radio, while immediately after, the soft, lovely "First Frost" uses a harpsichord and xylophone, and sounds much more like Northern folk/indie rock ("First frost, the wind whips through me/The Gitche Gumee nearly froze today," Cox sings, her clean voice much better adept to Lake Superior climes than the muggy Southern-esque rock of "All the Way Down," where, despite the effects, it gets lost behind the electric guitars). And the last three tracks on the album, "Alive Among Thieves," "Rogue Revelator," and "Take My Hands, We're Free," while definitely not as experimental, have the same swirling riffs and patterns that Sullivan's former band, Oneida, is known for, winding bits and pieces around each other until they're tangled and focused and still somehow very loose. All this divergence, while not exactly distracting, does lessen the cohesion of the entire record, but because all of the songs stem from and grow out of the same sources, the transitions between them are not too extreme, or even uncomfortable. Instead, I'll Follow You is a record that shows off the diversity of Oakley Hall's palette, country and folk and rock, equally important and equally imposed, and because of this, something worth listening to.

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