Review: An Upbeat Journey Courtesy of the Way Down Wanderers

Way Down Wanderers/More Like Tomorrow/independent 
3.5 Our of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

With their third album, the alt-folk quintet Way Down Wanderers makes a marked step towards maturity courtesy of a knowing approach to their lively melodies and effortlessly integrated style. Mining their pop precepts with an easy, breezy delivery, they spin three-part harmonies underscored by arcane instrumentation—guitars, mandolin, violin, accordion, bass, banjo, and percussion—creating a joyful sound that’s neither self-conscious nor plagued by platitudes. 

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There are occasional exceptions to that positioning; “Love Is My Gospel” carries a message that culminates with Love your neighbor as yourself, a simple sentiment perhaps, but one that fits the somewhat upbeat attitude. “Two Parts One Heart is another ideal example, its plucky rhythms and giddy harmonies reflecting their unapologetically cheery pastiche. On the other hand, “Darkside Drive” varies a bit from that upbeat attitude, a thoughtful statement on the need to make good on past indiscretions. (i.e. I’m sober now) So too, “Dark Marks” is a relatively reflective mood-changer that takes stock of current circumstances through an otherwise contemplative credo.

Those latter two songs offer only a momentary pause, however. By the time they arrive at the final song of the set, a sing-along shuffle titled “Everything’s Made Out Of Sand,” their optimistic attitude is once again in full flourish.

Some might Accuse Way Down Wanderers of being a bit of a collective Pollyanna in attitude and effecting, but there’s no denying it’s a refreshing change from the doom and gloom that seems to have the world so entangled in their grip these days. So too, this sport of happy happenstance provides a welcome diversion, if only for the moment. One can only hope that More Like Tomorrow, as its title suggests, provides a genuine promissory note for the future. 

Photo by Keith Cotton

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