Wild Child: The Runaround

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Wild Child
Wild Child
The Runaround
(The Noise Company)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This Austin folk duo that walked away with Best Indie Act and Best Folk Act at 2013’s Austin Music Awards gets assistance on their sophomore effort. Fan Ben Kweller steps in to add instrumentation that fattens the sound. He expands their once limited palette that remains based on ukulele and violin to now include bass, drums, keys and cello. He also tones down some of the cutesiness inherent in their approach and crafts these songs with fascinating arrangements and often unexpected sonic twists.

This makes for a more diverse yet focused set of music that hasn’t lost its playful attributes but feels more complete and even polished. The duo’s vocal harmonies are sweet and vibrant as Kelsey Wilson’s delightful lead singing has acquired a low key confidence yet remains innocent and charming. Musically their mix of amiable folk, pop and gypsy melodies is a subtle and intriguing confluence that sounds like little else. Once you warm up to the predominantly acoustic, somewhat quirky slant, the music feels warm and cozy, but never bland. Wilson’s voice is so adorable and natural, you want to pinch her cheeks and invite her over for coffee.

Wild Child takes a page out of the Peter Bjorn and John playbook on the whistled chorus to the frisky “Crazy Bird,” the disc’s first single. There is also a stylistic link to the Lumineers with a few shouted “hos” and “heys” and the presence of cello.

Despite the band’s name, this music is childlike in all the best ways although few would go so far as to call it wild. It is optimistic though and you’ll probably find yourself tapping your foot to songs with memorable melodies such as the opening title track and gleefully grinning throughout all eleven enchanting tunes, even when there is a touch of regret and sorrow to the lyrics. Leave the darkness and painful introspection for other acts as Wild Child lets the sun shine in.

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