Bre McDaniel’s latest album, Howl is a scattershot of contemporary indie folk songs that either miss the target or are far from bullseye. Scratching the surface on a collection of different trends that have been prevalent in the past decade plus of indie folk results in little more than a dent in what she could have accomplished with her beautiful and dynamic voice and evident musical sensibilities like she demonstrates on The Militant Mothers of Raymur.
The album opener is a low-fidelity singer-songwriter styled ballad, a style which briefly makes a return later on during the first half of the song Electric Fence. This seemingly mournful yet vapid approach is a tried and true mainstay of the genre but is currently finding itself in the adult diapers section of growing old and tired.
The second track, Pipelines is heavily key-centric, first on a lacklustre piano lead which suggests raw and authentic emotion but falls short and lends itself more towards a motivational advertisement rather than an honest expression of artistic anguish. After a sloppy transition from piano to deep organ chords, McDaniel belts out a tawdry matra about discovering the sacred and sanctified relationship we hold with water.
The allusion to the scarcity and ethereal properties of H2O is something we’re reintroduced to again later on the album during the song Twin Falls Bridge. The track is less than a minute long and is comprised of loose foley sounds and McDaniel’s singing in the background. If the intention was to reestablish the aquatic mysticism theme then she accomplished that, but the avenue the track takes is painfully overdone on this record.
More than a third of the 14 songs on this record are snippets of background noise with a very vague musical inclination to them. The remainder of the songs are uninspired and seem to be placeholders of a genre that has been explored in its current form to the point of redundancy.
The worst thing about the album is the inoffensive way the record plods along. There’s nothing fundamentally challenging or even necessarily bad about the music, rather it simply remains suspended in the animation of unoriginality as if it were the picture on a postcard. It’s reassuringly bland and somehow comfortable. You won’t find this record to be a head turner, but it’s not bad, just stale.
4.2/10 – Trying to skip a stone in puddles