Featured Image courtesy of the Artist
Straight off of a UK tour with one exceptional musical sorcerer, Mr. Hozier himself, the magic-making women of Wyvern Lingo have fully arrived with a new spin on the girl group. A powerhouse trio from County Wicklow, Ireland, the group had just released an energetic yet tender EP Letter to Willow and, the best news is, it’s riddled with nods to 90s R&B. The harmony-packed and blues-guitar driven 4-track doesn’t disappoint on the jazz-rock fusion front; it’s something we’ve never heard before, pieced together with various riffs and intricacies we’ve heard a thousand times.
On their title track, “Letter to Willow,” lullabyists Karen, Caoimhe, and Saoirse practically go zero-to-sixty as they transition from coffeehouse crooners to pop songstresses. Despite the strong shift in tempo and revved-up percussion on “Letters to Willow,” the trio remains utterly grounded in their R&B-driven DNA, decorating the bass-line with a melody that undoubtedly repeats itself, but shifts ever so lovely-like thanks to a surprising manipulation of slides, voice breaks, and falsetto.
In “Subside,” the sound winds down, moving into a sultry new territory that’s filled with an arpeggio-climbing, beautifully dissonant jazz guitar. Keyboardist and vocalist Karen Cowley maintains an essence of effortless power, even through the song’s lowly-sung verses. Repeated oohs and aahs that take us right back to the 90’s, conjure comparisons En Vogue and their soulful pleas. Wyvern Lingo’s “I Need You to Want Me” nearly equaling the famous “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” in both vocal and emotive dominance.
The trio’s self-released EP caught the attention of Irish label Rubyworks, who issued the group’s first release in March. Sharing not just a hometown and tour with Irish sensation Hozier, Wyvern Lingo also recorded with Hozier’s producer and sound engineer, Rob Kirwan, in Dublin. Letters to Willow, quite fittingly, echoes with a similar cathartic ambience to that conveyed through any given Hozier track. For instance, on “Beast at the Door,” the instrumentation is subtle, yet booming, similar to the rhythmic yet hummed accompaniment found throughout Hozier’s debut album.
The difference, though, is the unique way in which the vocals dip between smooth and soaring and raw and un-outlined. By the end of “Beast at the Door,” drummer and vocalist Caoimhe Barry melodically chats, breathy yet contained, as the song runs to a close. Sadly, Wyvern Lingo are only touring in the UK for now, but you can stream or download “Letters to Willow” here.
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