Josiah Wolf

Jet Lag

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Josiah Wolf is in a bad way. The drummer/multi-instrumentalist for indie pop-hop, odd-jobs Why? -- and brother of head Why? guy Yoni Wolf -- penned this debut album in the evidently rocky wake of an 11-year relationship, which makes it a solo effort in more ways than one. The lone Wolf also played every note of these lonely, vibe-heavy arrangements, which aren't a far cry from the textural warmth and inventiveness of his work with Why?, but trend toward more simple, if not necessarily sparse, downcast chamber folk. "The Trailer and the Truck" kicks things off with a bit of gusto -- its familiar loping marimba figure and dreamy synth pads offset by rapid-fire drums in martial, measured spurts -- but things stay pretty mellow from there on out, leaving the focus squarely on Josiah's often fragile vocals, which bear a clear familial resemblance to his brother's gruffly personable speak-singing. And that's a fine place for the focus to be: Josiah isn't quite as flashy a wordsmith as his notoriously loquacious sibling, but his more plain-spoken (if still poetic) style can be quite potent, particularly at its most unfiltered and direct. Jet Lag is unambiguously a break-up (well, post-break-up) record, through and through, with plenty of emotionally blunt appraisals of that situation ("Unused 'I love you's build up in my throat/And my apartment smells like divorce," "For eleven years, we didn't touch another/and now I can't sleep") that cut to the core. But Wolf also finds more interesting ways to explore his heartache than simply wallowing in it -- sifting through memories both fondly distant ("That Kind of Man") and bitterly fresh ("The New Car"); grappling with eternity in the shower on "Master Cleanse (California)"; struggling internally to move forward on "The Opposite of Breathing" -- that favorably recall his brother's intimately honest anecdotal approach. Yes, the shadow of his other band, and specifically of his (incidentally, younger) brother, may be hard to escape when hearing and contemplating this album -- the stylistic similarities are pretty undeniable, and not necessarily to Josiah's advantage -- but the elder Wolf has enough of a distinct voice (and enough to say with it) that Why?'s fans will definitely want to give it a listen -- and those who find Yoni a bit too dizzyingly cerebral might take more kindly to Josiah's sincerity and directness.

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