“It’s Medicinal!: The Hand-Sewn Power Of Little Wings” by Trinie Dalton (Arthur, 2008)

It’s Medicinal!: The Hand-Sewn Power Of Little Wings

by Trinie Dalton

Originally published Jan 16, 2008 on Arthur’s Yahoo blog


Soft Pow’r, the new Little Wings album, wields its quietude like a sword. Lead singer Kyle Field rambles through tunes pondering solitude and longing, but his sad songs have an acidic, transformative edge: gentle guitar lullabies strummed underneath harmonized, twangy vocals that are often compared to Neil Young’s. Current bandmates Lee Baggett, Curtis Knapp, Adam Forkner, and Jona Bechtolt amp up the enterprise in parts; some songs, like “Free Bird,” have a simple country edge, while others, like “Beep About,” are more jazzy and abstract. Field mentions via email that he likes playing loud live, but hadn’t had the desire to record loud music in awhile. He says Soft Pow’r has a “mediciney” feel.

Soft Pow’r is less wizard-inflected than Little Wings’ previous album, Magic Wand: there’s more direct lyrics about the songwriter’s moods, and the musings detail specific people and settings. In the past Field has eschewed blunt narrative messages, mostly declining interviews in favor of writing songs cryptic or whimsical enough to encourage interpretive guessing.

Listening to Magic Wand, I’d suspected that Little Wings were mellow, canyon-dwelling elves who played crystal-powered, ancient machines for their songs featuring whale mountains and a wand who hides inside someone’s robe. Field has described exploring mystical themes through harmonic music as his desire “to study the patterns and relationships between lines, and to think of singing as weaving the sound’s fabric.”

But with Soft Pow’r‘s first line, “Totally lost in the fog, who’s not?” Little Wings launch into several tracks about memory—remembering the past to grasp the present. “Gone Again,” a bluesy tune about someone sitting on a beach, “out of touch,” conjures up a narrator lamenting a missing loved one. The lyric, “I feel a breath but it’s not from my mouth,” in “Warming” evokes an image of a ghost searching for signs of life.

Nature is the buoy keeping characters afloat in Little Wings’ music, providing the free, open space where one discovers feelings long buried. Emotional states in Field’s music have always been conveyed through nature metaphors. Throughout my favorite Soft Pow’r song, “Scuby,” about a boy mysteriously departed, sun slants through windows, pumpkins are carved and candlelit, and tall trees sway in an Autumn tribute heralding a change of season as much as change of friendship. Field feels that describing human conditions through nature’s cues creates timeless songs that remind the listener of mortality. Soft Pow’r offers nature as solace: self-reflecting and medicinal, like the album itself.

Soft Pow’r, just released on Field’s new imprint RAD with upstream support from Marriage Records, links Field’s visual talents with the musical. Field is an exhibiting artist who makes earthy yet ethereal colored pencil and watercolor drawings–he has already designed a skateboard deck for RAD, and his friend Richard Swan has artfully hand-sewn Soft Pow’r promotional patches to sell on RAD’s website. These are no average patches; Swan once mailed me a customized wool sweater covered with Sasquatch patches, including a giant, brown foot with a question mark cut out of it, and a patchwork Bigfoot scene depicting the beast caught by a camera lens. I love men who sew!

Check out RAD: marriagerecs.com/rad/ rad.html

Check out Kyle Field’s drawings: www.kyledraws.com

http://www.littlewingsnow.com/


TRINIE DALTON is an author and frequent contributor to the free transgenerational counterculture bimonthly Arthur Magazine. Her latest books are the illustrated novella A Unicorn Is Born (Rizzoli) and Wide Eyed (Akashic), a collection of short stories.

“Welcome to Energy”: a visit with Little Wings by Erik R. Bluhm (Arthur, 2004)

Welcome to Energy
Free-spirited Little Wings tunesmith Kaisle Feeled’s coastal introspection experience.
Text and photos by Erik R. Bluhm
. Art direction by W. T. Nelson.

Originally published in Arthur Magazine. No. 13.

Malibu, California June 2004—I stumbled into their camp by following a small trail up from the beach. Rows of rocks were laid out in some places like arrows pointing the way. On top of a small bluff it sat, a geometrically-shaped brown paper structure about the size of a delivery van. As I walked up, the paper door was pushed aside and a deeply-tanned young man emerged. I immediately recognized him as Kaisle from the record jackets. He wore sandals, a fringed vest made of the same paper as the tent and no shirt.

“Grow,” he greeted. “Welcome to Energy.”

The two of us sat on a Navajo blanket that was set out on the grass to observe the ocean below. We were joined by two others who Kaisle introduced as Arrak, tall and bearded, and Nice Chichen, an attractive young woman in braids and a mini-poncho.

“I met these two at a folk club north of Morro Bay,” explained Kaisle, slowly tracing an arc in the air between Arrak sitting Indian-style at his side and Nice Chichen who was offering a platter of cold lentils and kelp salad. “They began an intricate interpretive dance as I was performing. Very expressive. We decided to move south together.”

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