Another low-key triumph, Little Wings' Magic Wand presents more of Kyle Field's threadbare but still warm weave of folk, country, and indie music. Even before the indie-folk revival spearheaded by Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Vetiver, Field's wide-eyed, thoughtful musings offered a sweeter, more light-hearted take on this kind of sound than the music of Will Oldham, Smog, and some of the other artists to which he is regularly compared. Indeed, the kind of gently observational songwriting that Field specializes in seems to be localized to K's and States' Rights' Pacific Northwest stomping grounds, where friends and collaborators such as the Microphones, Dirty Projectors, and Bobby Birdman also live and perform. Of these contemporaries, Little Wings is one of the best at creating albums with a sense of ebb and flow; while Field's palette of understated electric and acoustic guitars, echoing pianos, and minimal percussion hasn't changed much since Discover Worlds of Wonder, his skill at applying it continues to become subtler and finer. And Magic Wand is Field's subtlest album yet, eschewing some of the poppier flourishes found on Light Green Leaves for a quieter, but more cohesive sound. Tracks such as "Whale Mountain," "Hanta Yo Three," and "Random Lee" provide a mellow backdrop to gorgeous songs like "I Am With You," one of the best uses of Field's choral harmonies on the album; "Sing Wide," which is one of Magic Wand's most rock-sounding tracks, but still feels based in expansive folk despite its layered guitars and intermittent drums; and the hazy, slide guitar-driven title track. "Darkened Car" closes the album with a typically Little Wings slice of wisdom: "In a darkened car, you're only who you say you are." It may not be quite as distinctive as Light Green Leaves, but Magic Wand's soft-focus glow makes it a fine addition to Little Wings' body of work.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares