The Saga of Beware Wolves – New Underground Icon

Its not entirely farfetched in our modern internet age that a prolific songwriter would present themselves as anonymous, conceivingly out of nowhere, and drop 9 hefty albums within the span of a couple weeks.  Still, it doesn’t happen often, or perhaps never.  At least we only know of one exact occurrence, and that is from an artist who calls the project Beware Wolves.  

We knew it would be personally challenging, when we agreed to take on all 9 Volumes recently released by the anonymous songwriter known as Beware Wolves.  An effort of this magnitude would demand an extensive vocabulary, and some outside the box configuration.  It wouldn’t be fitting to just dissect every calculated note and harmonic treatment, and though we’ll do a little of that, it’s the mystery that ultimately keeps you reading.  

Somewhere between appreciation and investigation, we brace ourselves before offering any finite conclusions.  What we offer is a broad spectrum of motivation, that cornucopia of influence and inspiration, and perhaps some instrument for healing to suggest that this project could have been directly subscribed.  Maybe not by some therapeutic function, but by an interest of friends and colleagues who hope good things will come of it.  

And so it is that this artist took it upon themselves to drop 9 mighty Volumes of noteworthy songs in one massive heave.  We expected to digest a reasonable amount of filler.  What we found was mostly killer, there’s just not anything on this that sucks.  It’s a testament to the artists melodic nature and elite skill.   In essence he’s a great singer and impressive player.  The bare poetic musings and in the moment performances remind us of an undiscovered Jeff Buckley and his iconic bootleg Live at Sin-e.  The bootleg designation is a reference to the Volumes scattered quality, at times sounding like impromptu demos, though there are also fair moments of polished presentation.  

As I dug deeper into these works I knew to do them poetic justice I would need to digest the volumes and review them based on my essential cuts.  The first two volumes are dissected in full, and then the remaining works are presented regarding curated select works.  

There are stand outs, and we’ve aimed to offer the best of them in a sort of best of collection, which we have dubbed Beware Wolves – The Essential Cuts 

Let us begin…

Vol. 1

We have clues.  Our overreaching inquiries resulted in some content regarding the artists intention, in regards to both their hopes of remaining anonymous and how they want this music to be received.  What we received we will surely overanalyze.  Most of the clues present themselves in the series vital opening number.  

After the War is the kind of genuine offering we can play on repeat and never get tired of.  The singers genuine delivery bleeds with truth and raw emotion.  The roaming guitar work recalls Blue era Joni Mitchell, and the vocals recall Ryan Adams and Springsteen, but with arguably more inherent talent.  The performance is live, and incredible.  The lack of quality might hurt its reception, which would be a sin.  For us, it’s our favorite cut.  If the goal is to nail that first impression, he found his mark.  

The lyrics to After The War have significance regarding the project as a whole.  Our investigative functions kick in.  Was there a trauma, perhaps a real war, that spurred this manic creative run?  “But what I want to tell you, is the thing that words were meant for.  I want to tell you I love you, even after the war, even after this.  Too many pieces to even try to put back together again, and if I hurt you in the battle well I’m sorry my friend.  Did I leave you to dust?  Did I leave you to die?…”

If After The War is the first statement that the artist intended to convey, then Anna is most certainly the second.  A rare piano based gem, you wonder if they’re singing over a track that they found.  As a composition it has little in common with their other works.  It sound derived from some dystopian 50s soundtrack, with Roy Orbison flair.  “Drifting my way across the ocean, finding those pictures in my mind.  Sunshine, you’re lifted on a carousel.”  Another elite, rare lyrical moment that only they can convey.  Drawn directly from their inspirational well, Anna is important, and the work is meant to be striking.  

The artist joins his own critical choir, playing folly on his charming single Another Song.  It’s one of many sweet delights, with Beatles style flair and melodic intention.  There are also hints of Simon and Garfunkel mixed with the Everly Brothers, like on Back to You and Around & Down.  Sweet lullaby style compositions where the artists creates singular harmonic worlds and stays true to intention.  

His craving for vintage slapjack premiers on the vibing Back of the Moon and Badsome.  Bred out of the legacies of rocks first movement, sometimes bordering on rockabilly.

His dynamic rushing playing returns on the emphatic Big Sky.  Bringing variation and surprise to every vocal line, it emulates a sort of lyrical riffing.  Melodically elite, it recalls the legacy of Cat Stevens.  Beware Wolves is able to recreate a classic vibe in a new and exciting way.  He pillages and pairs these 12 notes like he’s working with 1,000.  Everything sounds fresh and inventive, even when he’s wearing his influences.  

Capping the first collection with the passionate Black & Blue, the artist lets the sonic imperfections show.  What’s beneath is beautiful and captivating, legible enough to be received sensibly.  “Even the sky is black and blue,” they remind you.  How could they polish this resounding hurt, it wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be just.  Let it be as it is, let it be real, let it be love. 

Vol. 2

Blackout reiterates the chronological mystery.  A clearer vocal stipulates that some better gear was acquired, but we already heard some polish on the aforementioned Anna.  Stylistically its more bluesy than anything on Vol 1, but its not 12 bar, that would be out of character.  It’s a blues like Dylan would write, offering a contemporary melody out of the initial blues section.  That juxtaposition also reminds us of The Grateful Dead.  

His sweet folk pop side returns on Bring it to Me.  The rotating chords always find new resolutions, an attribute familiar to Carole King.  It also shares in her penchant for swagger and cool.  “All I Wanna Do Is Take You In My Arms and Hold You.”  

The aptly titled Crazy recalls a White Album tirade.  

The artist reclaims his touch on the vibing Danielle.  Slappy aggressive guitar runs and a groovy passionate vocal performance make this a collection highlight.  His voice reminds us of Gin Blossoms with its trebly passionate swell and quivering treble.  The harmonies embellish the sentiment.  Whoever Danielle is, Beware Wolves is pulling for her. She gets a righteous tribute.  

His sincere vulnerability is illuminated on Electric Light.  The chorus riff is one of the most modern to date, with evidence of 90s alternative.  

Emergency Contact is an important Segway that ties the collection together.  If you’re looking for clues and admissions of emotional vulnerability, it’s here. 

Envy of Stars  finds him back in his wheelhouse of 60s pop era melodies.  Recalling the works of Paul McCartney, CSNY, and Joni Mitchell.  There’s also an indie folk appeal.  It’s a charming number and a notable cut. 

Ever Loved continues the trend, shining like an uncovered classic cut.  The closer Fans doesn’t stray.  These 3 closing cuts of Volume II represent what we find to be his best form.  Expressive guitar work and thoughtful melodic intention.  Like on Fans, he employs so much variation and stylistic riffing, there’s nothing typical about it.  It’s some of the best damn writing we’ve heard and he brings it in tandem.  “Before the show, after you go, I would like it if you talked to me.  I’m your fan and always will be.  That’s what it is, I like.  If I could somehow I would right now I would make your day.”  A genuine statement of admiration, he makes it sound majestic.  That’s part of his magic, he always wants to do good, and sees an incredible reality within our shared experience.  The common made beautiful and dreamy when seen through his rose colored lenses.  

As I dug deeper into these works I knew to do them poetic justice I would need to digest the volumes and review them based on my essential cuts.  

Vol. 3

Like a lullaby for a far away lover the singer croons on the inspiring Glow.  As if they’re knelt by the campfire on some sidetracked frontier.  Longing for their lover in the grips of impossibility, their voice ripe with yearning, singing themselves to serenity as they wish the night away.  

A little Joni Mitchell style impromptu key change pulls you out of the melody before he whisks you back again on the groovy Gravity.  Another ode to a distant love, the kind of love that warms a wintery night.  “Give to me your hand to hold, the afternoon on the avenue don’t feel so cold.”  A simple sentiment to drive this straightforward love song home.  A la-di-da melody where words just don’t need to be spoken, there to formulate the interpretive bliss of that summer love feeling, with its forever grace and fearful fleeting.  Gravity bottles it up and lets it last eternal. 

Forgiveness is found on the passionate closer, Heaven & Earth.  Somewhere between Ryan Adams and Dave Matthews, the singer alternates between stealth prose and a soulful delivery.  The guitar sweeps are swift, jumping between picking and popping, adding a percussive appeal, drawing every utility from the guitar.  The playing is impressive, but fairly candid.  Beware Wolves knows when they captured the truth of it.  It’s about capturing its essence, not dissecting its internals.  They’re not meant to be seen in that manner.  It’s how it blends in the moment.  

Vol. 4

Vol IV kicks off with the impressive Holding Out.  A collective stand out, it features intriguing dual guitar work that draws inspiration from classic acoustic rock.  It’s catchy, with a trademark hook ready for a sing along.  Lyrical gems provide more clues into what drives these works.  “My Best Friend and my Worst Enemy both help me to see, both help me to be clear.”  The insightful Holding Out is another conceptual soldier’s lullaby, chronicling the misunderstood journey that is a soldier’s life.  “Holding on, and holding out, it’s bound to bring such a change about.  That’s when the truth and the lies can really cut you down to size.”  The world looks a lot different when you turn it upside down.  When its just you and the mission, all the clutter cuts away. 

Channeling the spirit of Jackson C. Frank we were entranced by the tantric design of Just In Time.  The riff revolves as the voice floats above, stretching the riffs construction with lengthened notes before joining in on the pomp appeal.  Ending as it began, it honors an artistic legacy.  A song for unexpected love, the quick catchy appeal suits the narrative.  “I didn’t want to find it, I left it all for dead, but she turned me on my head.”  Delivered like he knows how precious that loves is, he brings a jovial performance, like he’s smiling through the speakers. 

Who is Beware Wolves?

Vol. 5

Volume V kicks off with the upbeat jovial revelation that is Little Voice.  This Robert Palmer style modern blues has pop sensibility.  The catchy infectious vibe suits the songs inspiration.  Beware Wolves didn’t tell us a lot, but he did tell us he had some little inspirations that deserve his dedication.  An instinctual protector, the song reflects how he likes to keep their world fun and full of spirit. 

Little Voice is followed up by one of his signature cuts, the fantastic Long Run.  The charming lyrical construct makes elegant use of rhyme and reflection.  Somewhere between Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Ryan Adams, Long Run is a tight tune that shines in the raw.  Just a strumming guitar and his vintage croon keep Long Run genuine.  “I thought this love was a strong one.  We were ready for the long run, now it seems we’ve come to the end.  Oh I need a friend.  I wanted us to walk a higher path, leave the ruins of the aftermath.  It’s been so long since I’ve seen the sun, Oh I need someone.”

Long Run signifies a sort of tectonic shift.   This new canon of songs about heartache and romantic strife suggest the works of Vol V exit his romantic grace period, and enter a new period.  

Vol. 6

Volume 6 kicks off with New World.  An innovative composition, the unorthodox melodic construct is less contemporary than his collective catalog.  When he sings “you are a new world,” you wonder if some updated influence bred this evolution.  We hear some of the innovative indie leanings of Grizzly Bear in these dissonant chords. 

Note to Self returns to his original form, with a tweaked folky update, illuminated by his trademark compositional prowess.  It’s a charming, catchy Beatles style groove.  

He steps into the ethereal on the dreamy Phenom-Anom.  This rolling chamber folk resonates like a troubadour epic.  The echoey design brings cinematic appeal, like a conceptual journey in song.  Some daunting experience must have influenced this ferocious tirade.  We hear an eastern exotic appeal known to Jose Gonzalez, with some of the ghost folk essence known to Fleet Foxes. 

The artist offers a tribute to a late night companion with the poetic Radio. We are not what we think we are, less like a candle, more like a star.  We were born to shine, and the song they played on the radio was mine.”  A song for dreamers and perseverance, it’s got all the melodic flare and catchy cadence a radio hit demands.  The on brand lofi construction doesn’t’ help his campaign, but the songs are dead ringers.  

Vol. 7

Vol VII kicks of with the revelatory Runaway.  The indie pop cadence in the verse section recalls recent works by Phoebe Bridgers.  As the song evolves, the chorus recalls 90s icons Soul Asylum with its soulful grunge inspired affect.  The vocal quivers with inspired passion, as the artist brings his hurt to the surface.  Slightly sloppy in its construction, Runaway appears to have occurred in a moment of healing, too impromptu for a second pass, too painful to prolong.  It’s that candid authenticity trademark to this priceless collection.  

“I tried as hard as hard as I could,” he laments on Sad Girl.  There’s a sense of resolution, a sense of closure to this heartbreak.  “I lost a friend, I wonder how it will be in the end.”  It seems our harlequin is moving on, and dropping an emotional tribute on his way out.  

The hopeful intention returns on the groovy Sail Away.  With a little Van Morrison style swagger Beware Wolves shakes it off.  A crisp mix and sharp presentation makes this one of the more accessible cuts.  The composition has a classic feel.  It retains a lively sway, as if it were captured on a big stage in front of an adoring crowd.  How it should be, how it will be.  

The folky flavor returns on Signal.  Calculated plucks unravel the melodic spectrum.  A bit of a Simon and Garfunkel style duet, the arrangement is flawless.  The artist does a lot with a little, employing a keen sense of harmony elegantly.  The harmonizing voice wades in and out with dramatic intention, knowing when to stretch the tonal atmosphere, and when the to let the lead stand alone.  Another lyrical gem, the artist is a wordsmith.  “It’s easy to oblige this feeling.  Not so easy to ignore.  Easy to want more…”  He’s in touch with every creeping vulnerability and how it invades him.  With these songs he exercises the demons and lays them to rest.  

The assumed band returns for the peppy pump of Something Worthwhile.  An indie country delight, it recalls the works of Hiss Golden Messenger and Phosphorescent.  A tight arrangement, it features full band syncopation and thoughtful breakdowns.  All the variation and surprise needed to keep an audience baked in.  A tickling lead scans the chart, dropping tasteful lines between the vocal breaks.  There’s no doubt he can groove with a band when he wants to, and the groups really settles nice on this upbeat number. 

Song De Jour is a cheeky title with charming humility, but the smokescreen has little to do with the songs acquired intention.  Another sweet forever-love song, its a working man’s romantic epic.  “When my feet they get tired, I keep moving til I get where I belong.  I belong with you forever, in the fields we can run.”  It’s the reward at the end of the struggle, the promised paradise that keeps us going.  This grinding modern day to day hustle needs a love so true to push us through.

Vol. 8

Message received, and I am so relieved.  Now I can see the difference between what I believe and what I know.”  Beware Wolves takes spiritual inventory on The Difference.    With an expressive Ukulele performance and vibey snapback delay he creates a bouncing soundscape.  The music’s reflective harmonic melancholy is the perfect backdrop for the artist to sort out these recent revelations.  “Nothing was the same.”  

A uncharacteristic outburst of disdain corrupts The Take.  The hopeless romantic turns resentful as he laments “the final curtain is falling on your show.”  A 60s retro rock bop with subtle Nashville flavor, it features a rare full band performance.  The 60s pop swagger recalls works by The Monkees or Dave Clark Five.  He nails the vintage vibes so true, it plays out like a lost treasure.  Who is Beware Wolves and where did he acquire these vintage tones?  The mystery deepens…

The classic Dylan derived folk blues fever returns on The Window.  Initially exchanging his signature croon for a sly mischievous bellow, he returns to form when he pleads “how am I gonna get you alone?  I can’t even get you on the phone.”  

The bizarre investigation turns perplexing with the offering of Today.  Some kind of beautiful bus stop orchestra seemingly falls into place, with a haunting happy accident arrangement to support the songs unconventional composition.  More suspicion of discarded treasure boils within you as you melt beneath the melodic gold.  The strings are beautiful.  Such a nice surprise.  On theme the performance sounds slightly candid, constructed then revealed in one agreed upon run.  As if it just felt right when it happened, so they negotiated to Let It Be.  Ironically feeling like a late Beatles experiment, equally paralyzing for an adoring listener.  More reasons to love him, 8 Volumes in.  

Vol. 9

We got caught up in the infectious jive and jump of Torrey Pine.  The rhythmic vocal cadence adds to the songs percussive pop.  The contrast of the swooning vocal swells is elegant.  The rapid poetry unwinds gracefully, designed to trickle right off the lips.  There’s evidence of folk pop and Nashville skylines, with some island flavor and flow.  

A Traci Chapman style soul blues influence infects the subsequent Trouble Me More.  Beware Wolves sounds more playful in this style.  It recalls the early works of DMB, with groovy intention and possessed vocal spurts. 

The classic storyteller’s ethos returns on U.S. Mail.  The artist constructs an imaginative narrative, or perhaps a dedication or some untravelled memory.  It imagines the mailman in search of deliverance with each delivered letter. 

The adaptation evolves in stride as he states “Don’t wanna be the unforgiven one” That tectonic thematic shift relents, as if some monumental occurrence turned his world sideways.  Where is our dead set romantic?  Life’s been catching up.  The post war battles sometimes appear harder, or at least realign his tolerance for consideration.  This Mellencamp style groove keep Vol 9 on the intellectual modern pop side.  

The elusive band returns on Water & Stone, with a select electric guitar tone unheard before here but still on brand.  Another curious lofi cut that begs for explanation.  The bass is panned far right while the lead guitar sits left.  If it wasn’t for the drums you might mistake it for vintage stereo.  Or is it after all?  Did we mention it’s a jam?  A 60s era folk rock classic with bluesy appeal, or more effectively, 60s pop.  

The Traci Chapman licking and kicking returns with Whiskey Dreams.  Honestly if it were her we wouldn’t bat an eye.  They’re that good.  

And here we are, closing up shop with the pumping Wicked Love.  “I can’t keep my eyes on all the other things I’m supposed to do.  Wicked Love driving me mad, worst of it is it’s the best love that I’ve ever had.” 

He really doesn’t tell lies.  Romeo turns a little scornful in the end, and the angry folky bluesy songster gives him an evolutionary edge.  There’s a lot of shades to this complicated craftsman. 

In 9 heaping volumes we grow through the long distance longing, heartbreak revolting, and resentful resolving.  We marvel at our love-life impossible only to watch him defeat his own champion. 

Was it all a part of the art, a detail of this suspected folly?  Has he already enjoyed so much success that he can mentally afford to posture himself in this manner?  Or are we the first to uncover this genius, see into his creative microscope. Because it is magnificent, and unlikely to be injested completely as appears prescribed.  

Collectively its most confusing affect is the diversity of quality.  There are a few outliers where the hiss isn’t so prominent, or the vocal distortion doesn’t peak.  The random scattered band moments are well performed. The band sounds tight.  They are also tonally coherent.  Were all the band moments recorded together?

Were there additional studios and locations used?  It seems unlikely, considering the consistent tonal construct.  It’s not terribly mixed.  It’s listenable on classic terms, but it’s lofi compared to todays industry standard. 

The collection was released on a small Massacheusetts label, Safe Harbor Records . The label claims to have received it in complete offering.  

In the enormous wild world that is the indie music industry on the cusp of 2023, projects like this are exciting.  It’s reinvigorating to receive a true songwriters project so impressive and unceremonious.  It gives us faith that there is still more genuine magic to uncover, between these 12 notes and the history of classic rock.  

Beware Wolves.  The Complete 9 Volumes, 5 stars.  

It’s all killer, but for prosperities sake we yanked our favorite 38 cuts and dropped them on this Playlist.  This is as much our proof of purchase as it is our delegation as the curated cuts.  The top 17 are our favorites, then it realigns Chronological.  Get in it.  


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