When listening to his new EP Encino, his first release in three years, it is obvious he draws influence from music of yesteryear. From the opening moments of the title track, I can’t help but think this is something Brian Wilson would have really dug.
All four songs on the EP sound like they’d make for a good film score. The video for “Encino” features actress Jena Malone in what almost seems like a short film. In fact, all of Wolfe’s music videos seem to be miniature films — perhaps a lasting influence from his famous mother Meryl Streep?
“In a town at the edge of the world, a town where dreams go to die / I’m waiting for you baby, here at the end of the line. The traffic’s bad but the weather’s good, the people are pretty and kind / Still I’m holding out for you, babe, here at the end of the line…” sings Wolfe in one of the early verses of the song. “Sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m still alive,” he sings in the well-constructed chorus. Though it’s called “Encino”, it is certainly a type of feeling that almost anyone can relate to.
Wolfe’s sound is reminiscent of Randy Newman or of Paul Simon, though a bit more understated. The EP is rounded out by two well-chosen cover songs of throwback luminaries Arthur Russell (“Your Motion Says”) and Harry Nilsson (“All I Think About is You”).
The interpretation of “Your Motion Says” features a nice piano accompanying Wolfe’s pleasant vocals. There’s a Mark Knopfler-feel to the four-song EP, most notably on this song. The original is a bit faster-pace, but Wolfe’s take on the song fits like a glove.
Wolfe’s version of Nilsson’s “All I Think About is You” begins with a charming harmonica bit before picking up a bit of steam. “How can I run away from darkness At the close of day When all I think about is you?” sings Wolfe.
Wolfe stays within a certain range throughout the four songs, but it is quite comforting. The EP will lead to an eventual full-length (due this spring), and these four songs are quite a tease for easy listening fans.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Stream Henry Wolfe’s new EP Encino.
Watch the official video for Henry Wolfe’s “Encino” featuring Jena Malone.