Alex Brown Church, a.k.a. Sea Wolf, makes a strong claim to being the ‘troubadour of Los Angeles (as opposed to The Troubadour – QRO live review…), with his sophomore full-length, White Water, White Bloom. There is very little ‘sophomoric’ about White Water, which sees Church’s alt-folk voice grow more substantial, even as it also grows brighter – but not ‘bright’. There are more than a few hints of other, more established/accomplished artists, but Church is definitely building in that direction.
Produced by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes (QRO album review) & now Monsters of Folk (QRO album review), there are certain times when Church’s voice gets a little Conor Oberst-y, when stripped, such as on "Orion & Dog", "The Orchard" and closer "Winter’s Heir", but it’s the piercing Wide Awake Bright Eyes, not today’s inferior Mystic Valley Band country-Oberst (QRO live review). And those aren’t the best tracks on White Water, as Church shows he can handle pressing orchestration well right from the get-go with opener "Wicked Blood" (though that piece, and other bass-driven ones like "Turn the Dirt Over" or the title track, have the feel of Arcade Fire – QRO live review – before their songs blow-up, such as the early part of "Black Mirror"). Sometimes there can be a few too many things going on, such as with the following "Dew In the Grass", but it’s an avenue Church should keep going on in.
But he shouldn’t then abandon his more rockin’ side. The rockin’ procession "O Maria!" and the bigger folk/country-rock "The Traitor" have enjoyable catch, without feeling like thin country-rock [cough-Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band-cough-QRO review]. If anything, White Water could have used more of this Sea Wolf, to break up some of the sad heartbreak. But Church is able to be sad without bringing you down, and nicely translate his emotion.
MP3 Stream: "The Traitor"