Humble Wolf is the music project of singer/songwriter Jayson Angove. Along with a couple of musician cohorts, Angove entered a couple of plush studios, one in California (Fat Cat Recording) and one right here in Fort Wayne (Digitracks Studios) and recorded Humble Wolf’s debut, Paper Thin.
The result is a well-produced group of songs that run the gamut from intimate acoustic fare, synth pop and even Audioslave-like riff rock. The album starts out with the bouncy and upbeat title track. A head-bopping beat, catchy vocal line and a chorus that kicks in with a great guitar melody, you have the feeling this album might just be a great synth pop ride. Then “There’s A Monster Inside You” starts up. A pogged-up rock riff and big drums come in, with Angove singing, “ I think you’re %$#&*! again.” I can appreciate not wanting to be pegged as just one style of music or another, and a little genre-hopping can make a record that much more interesting, but this song just doesn’t seem like it belongs on here. The riff, the lyrics and the expletive-filled chorus just seems out of place.
Immediately following “Monster,” “Make It Through the Night” comes in, bringing a gently plucked acoustic, keyboard vibe that almost has a lullaby feel. “Chasing Airplanes,” which follows, sounds like 90s-era Collective Soul. “Life Is A River (of Constant Change)” is another genre hopper, though with much better results. A breezy, almost country rocker, this nice track has a Bright Eyes sound to it. “The World Is An Empire” continues the Bright Eyes vibe with a sweet little acoustic strum and Angove’s accompanying vocal. “No Envy” brings the rock back, with a stomp/handclap beat and distorted vocal; then an Audioslave-ready guitar riff comes in and Angove sings “I do not envy you, so whatcha gonna do about it.” This song, alongside tracks like “Paper Thin,” “Chasing Airplanes” and the almost doo-wop swing of “Back Down To Earth” just doesn’t add up. “Monster” and “No Envy” might better have been saved for the riff rock side project.
The album goes out with a bang, though. Closer “Someone Like You” is a real gem. “And I’m so tired I think I’m sick /Tied down to my own sinking ship,” Angove sings over handclaps, synth strings and a acoustic guitar. This excellent track should be Angove’s jumping off point for the next Humble Wolf record.
There are some great songs on Paper Thin – some great songs on a good album. But Humble Wolf and Jayson Angove have the potential to make a great album with great songs on it. That I can definitely hear. Get ahold of this album, and I’m sure you’ll hear it as well.
by John Hubner