Band: Wye Oak
Song: “For Prayer”
Album: The Knot
Jenn Wasner kills you from the start with her tones and her words. The second song off Wye Oak’s sophmore album The Knot is a somber, almost mournful, tune thriving in wrongness and uncertainty. But you don’t need the words to know that. Jenn tells you in the tone of her voice and the tone of her guitar. “For Prayer” is a clever title: Regardless of our beliefs, under what circumstances do we often pray other than when we feel completely helpless in changing something? What is a prayer, and what does it change? A prayer, like this song, does not even need a word uttered to communicate, but words nonetheless follow. So Jenn sets up the song with a plea, “All this dirt is my disease. Please, please.” The song then twists and groans throughout its course as the drums kick in, the guitar distorts and bends, and a slide guitar cries out a mean lead. Together, these elements swell as she struggles in word with morals and confusion and, ultimately, motivation to care at all.
You shouldn’t expect anything less from a band raised in Baltimore. Wye Oak (named after the Maryland’s state tree, largest of all the white oaks) has a vast and full sound for only rocking a two-piece. Composed of Jenn Wasner (guitarist, vocalist, songwriter) and Andy Stack (drummer, keyboardist), Wye Oak has been hitting the independent route hard since their first full-length release in 2007. Signed by Merge Records in 2008, the band has been touring all over the U.S. and Europe with acts like The Decemberists and The National. They just released their third album, Civilian on Merge Records (US) and City Slang (EU) earlier this year and covered a sweet version of Danzig’s “Mother” for the A.V. Club, which can be found right here. (http://www.avclub.com/articles/wye-oak-covers-danzig,53066/).
Written by Christopher Hartlaub