Sap Season, released independently, is Wished Bone’s third full length album in just two years. The four piece, originating in Athens, Ohio, champion a California sound that is just enough serious, just enough passé to command a genuine respect amongst listeners looking for something honest and groove-able. Drug infused, but not druggy, quirky but not for the sake thereof, Sap Season forwards a collection of pleasant songs able to relax the technified mind.
To better understand the overall feel of the album, let’s jump forward to an unassuming line from track seven (“Trees We Couldn’t Tell the Size of”):
Your hands were shaking just like a flower
Everything was blooming in the early summer
We were hoping for a change, a change in the weather
Here, a delicate contrast of supposed natural beauty and something sought for collide beyond the immediate present and the listener is afforded a glimpse into a nostalgic longing that traces itself across the entire album. Singer/songwriter Ashley Rhodus delivers simple, potent lines such as this from start to finish, but not without help from Brian Kupillas on drums and keys, Phil Hartunian on bass and clarinet, and Spencer Raddcliffe on sax. Teddy Briggs also makes an appearance for one track on drums. Without the steady hand of each musician, the poetry could not have the impact it has. Try to imagine the kick drum, like the levers of a typewriter, forcing the music into print, the backing guitar and bass: the swooshes of the platen.
Although one could wish for a more complex arrangement placed somewhere within the ten track, 35 min long work, the melodic slowness of each and all of the tracks serves and succeeds as one, continuous piece. That being said, there are no standout tracks, evoking evenly the mood described above. The last track does however diverge slightly in that Rhodus divulges outright on the certain longing felt throughout the album:
And when we kissed I cried
And when you left I died
I love the one who
Gets drunk every night
I love the one who
Wants to start a fight
The song continues in this same plaintive manner, professing a love for the combative. In its straightforwardness, Sap Season is an album which begs for simplicity and indulges itself on the decay of relationships and the individual. Within these moments are flashes of the California sun and a deeper longing for something grander.