If you were a fan of the rawer folk sound of Dave Baxter’s first album as Avalanche City, Our New Life Above the Ground, you’ll probably be similarly into We Are for the Wild Places. His folk sound is still on show here, but with a slight nudge towards a friendlier sound for the mass market without making any major changes in the process. It’s a diverse yet consistent package and more refined in the right places, but at the same time may be too safe for its own good.
Opening on I Need You, the style feels reminiscent to his earlier album, but also features some defining changes that showcase the altered direction of the album. The light drums, guitar and piano are surrounded by airy effects that give it a light, floaty vibe that works enhances the earnest emotions behind Baxter’s lyricism: So I need you / More than anybody else / Oh I need you / Oh and I need you now.
This carries into Keep Finding a Way, which adds trumpets into the mix but otherwise remains in similar territory; in fact, the first song to really break the mould is Rabbit, which uses heavier drums and glockenspiel accompaniment for something that feels more consistent, rather than following the trend of slower, ambient folk songs. The following track Don’t Fall Asleep takes a step backwards, featuring just Baxter’s vocals and acoustic guitar for what actually comes across as refreshing in the grand scheme of the album. Little Fire marks the album’s most upbeat moment, with its bouncy beat and particular instrumental accompaniment; it bears the closest resemblance to his most popular single Love Love Love, and is a welcome addition to the album.
We Are for the Wild Places is an attractive album overall, and a good showing of his skills within his genre niche. The slower songs largely outnumber the upbeat ones, but the quality makes up for this. It’s only glaring problem is the sense of safety that comes with so closely exploring the same genre that Baxter had tackled on his first album, though whether it makes or breaks the album is up to personal opinion. For fans of his previous work, We Are for the Wild Places will be highly enjoyable, and it’s certainly a solid album; but one can’t help but wonder where else the Avalanche City sound could have gone with more open experimentation.