Photo Credit: Lauren Farmer
Rey Villalobos, the man behind House of Wolves (@houseofwolves1), is a welcome new voice in the world of alt folk, though his debut album, Fold in the Wind, is certainly not without comparisons. There are moments which, if heard out of context, sound exactly like a Sufjan Stevens b-side or an unreleased track from Elliot Smith. But really, who’s complaining? If you’re going to have musical influences, it might as well be those two.
Villalobos’ vocals may be unusually similar to those alt-folk powerhouses, but his songs are most certainly all his own. There’s always a lyric or melody that truly hooks me when I explore new music, and “50’s” was a beautiful combination of both. The vulnerability in his voice and the raw nature of this recording make it nearly impossible to remain impartial — the audience either loves it or dislikes it, though more often than not it appears to be the former. With only one new album under his belt, Villalobos is already touring throughout Europe and has played with the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Blind Pilot, Kaki King, Fanfarlo and others.
Some other highlights from Fold in the Wind include “Flight”, a simple, piano-and-strings song that packs a big emotional punch in 1:55, and “Love Labored Lost”, a particularly Elliot Smith-esque track that slowly layers finger-picked guitar, hand claps and trumpets. The intimate nature of these demo-style recordings and many other tracks on the album, make the listening experience that much more engaging and powerful.
The entirety of Fold in the Wind is streaming on House of Wolves’ Bandcamp and the track “50’s” is available for free download.