‘On The Inside’ is the debut album from melodic folk-pop trio, Wildflowers – who are Siddy Bennett – lead vocals, guitar, Siddy’s sister, Kit Bennett – backing vocals, accordion, keys, and James Ashbury – backing vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar, drums.
The recording kicks off with ‘Take Me Home’, fairly familiar country rock with a Lynyrd Skynyrd angle, some soaring vocals by all three in the extremely catchy chorus, clean guitar and bass parts, including a short harmonica solo; it begins well and ends well. They move from the opening mandolin riff on ‘Edge Of The Road’ into a shuffling happy tune with a classic Country storyline; you could quite imagine Jim Croce gettin’ down with The Coral. The driving ‘Another Million Miles’, and later on ‘100 Personalities’ may hopefully get fans of Mumford & Sons and Holy Moly & The Crackers curious.
There are several happy-go-lucky songs floating around from the band these days that should go down at the summer festivals like a cool, sweet cider. The comrades together sing along on ‘Friends’, a song which certainly has the ability to bring a smile, with celtic swing with light accordion and as Siddy says “I’m raising my glass to this/ to the friends that I love and I miss”.
The title-track has a 90’s indie-rock feel with acoustic and electric guitar lines; vocally it has some husky voice elements akin to Shania Twain in the chorus.Yet in the bridge, we hear some Britpop leanings, which take the fluffiness off what could have been a generic modern Country music number. As ‘Friends’ is a celebration song of sorts, ‘Let It Go’ is another sing-along, though it’s emotional tug may bring a slight tear to your eye, evaluating a love come-and-go struggle. Well layered guitars, liquid harmonies, high-end voiced piano chops along with spirited percussion – it cuts deep.
With a jazzy piano intro with some Adele-like bluesy phrasing, ‘Trust’ kicks into a Fleetwood Mac laid back feel, and simultaneously shares a harmonic closeness to The Coral. As does later track, ‘Where The Flowers Don’t Grow’, which has a kick-him-to-the kerb attitude, containing a speech sample from a member of Sampat Pal Devi’s female activists, The Gulabi Gang from North India. Another Kirsty McColl moment, it shines full of confidence, with clear, catchy instrumental hooks.
‘Fall Out Of Favour’ switches fluidly between the vocal styles of Stevie Nicks and Kirsty McColl, a feeling which comes across on many songs on the album. In the chorus, she does not hold back regarding a relationship breakdown, putting the guilty party to rites. Then along comes a tune for those earth-moving encounters on a night out. The disco groove of ‘Chemistry’ recalls Abba’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (A man after midnight)’ and aims to get the ladies on the dancefloor. The hopeful appealer ‘Skyscrapers’ sways along and finalises the album on a high.
‘On The Inside’ carries evidently heart-felt, honest expressions, which shows a strength in the songwriting. A glow of confidence comes across from Wildflowers, which generates greater expectation for their next album.
‘On The Inside’ is out now via Matthew & Alexander Music Ltd.
This Wildflowers review was written by Mark Steele, a GIGsoup Contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.