Americana duo Wild Iris, hailing from the eccentric, creative, and laid-back beach town of Santa Cruz, is the brain-child of Bryan Shelton and Kate Mullikin. The follow-up to their home-recorded debut EP in 2014 is the self-titled Wild Iris, which will be released at the beginning of April 2016. Combining elements of Americana, country, and hints of some pop-like sensibilities, the band is often in that soft spot where fans of different genres come together.
The duo starts things off on a high energetic note with the up-tempo, toe-tapping, banjo-driven “Mine All Mine”, a feel-good track also featuring a cheerful tambourine, an energetic violin, and a thumping percussion backbone. One can feel that vocalist Kate Mullikin’s is having a lot of fun singing.
The energy takes on a slightly southern flair in “Keys” what with its banjo introduction; while this song is slower than its predecessor, it has a certain contained strength in it waiting to burst through. Mullikin demonstrates that she can lower her register and be quite the convincing storyteller. Together, vocals and melody slowly release said tapped energy throughout the track, which naturally ends a few notches higher than it started.
The album takes an unexpected but needed turn with the slow, gentle, and sparse “Getting Home is Getting Harder Everyday” in which yet again Mullikin demonstrates another facet of her vocal skills. The cover title track is a country-imbibed, banjo-led, mid-tempo ballad while “What I’ll Find” is a slightly more energetic, pop-Americana uplifting ballad in which we are meant to be inspired to unglue ourselves from the world wide web and our phones to see what we will find around us.
The energy of the first two tracks returns in the upbeat, banjo-led “I’m Done” tinged with some anger and determination as Mullikin repeats how she is done with everything and walking out of a bad situation. While at the same level of energy, “Phoenix” is, à propos enough both with respect to its title and its predecessor, more uplifting and inspiring. The song discusses how a relationship can help us rise from “ashes” much like the mythical bird it is named after.
“Lazy Daze” is, well, lazy—a chill, easygoing track that seems to continue the discussion broached in “What I’ll Find” as it encourages us to enjoy the simple things. The mid-tempo “Those American Spirit Blues” has been digitally manipulated to sound like coming out of an old record player. “The First Time” contains in its melody the throbbing excitement of the first time someone sees the person they fall in love with. “Fall Fell” seems to be winding down the energy what with its slower and sparser feel; “Until the Sunrise” wraps things up with restrained but powerful energy.
Pictures provided by Working Brilliantly.