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Spotlight Track: ‘Wolves At Your Back’ – Waking Stone

jtpao 05/16/2024


Folk N Rock
Spotlight Track: ‘Wolves At Your Back’ – Waking Stone

Mina Habibi

Today, I’m going to be looking into a new band for me, Waking Stone. This husband-and-wife duo, Jim and Ashley Cash, seem to be stirring up a storm with their alt/hard rock sound from the looks of things. The track in todays spotlight is “Wolves At Your Back,” which I believe is the fourth single off their upcoming album. Now, I could be wrong, but it seems like they’re dropping these singles one by one until the full record hits us with a waterfall release style.

Right from the start, the click-clack rhythm in “Wolves At Your Back” snagged my attention. It’s this constant beat that becomes the main focus of each verse of the song. As this rhythm sets the scene nicely, a mysterious guitar tone starts to make its way into the mix. It doesn’t jump out at me; it’s more like it wraps itself around you, creating this vibe that’s hard to put my finger on but definitely got my interest. For a moment, I thought this might have even been done with a synth, and not a guitar.

Then, the vocals kick in, and that’s when things get really interesting. Ashley’s voice is the first I hear, and it’s got this faded quality, almost like a whisper from another world. It’s haunting in a way that will give you chills, making me feel like I’m hearing a ghost story unfold. Jim’s voice then steps in to answer hers. His parts are short, and just a few words, but they hit hard.

They’re like little punctuation marks to Ashley’s lines, creating a conversation that’s both beautiful and tense. You don’t hear counterpoint vocals in music much anymore, something I wish more bands would make use of. So it was great to see them do this.

Jim’s vocals here are a highlight for me,  because of the way they play with stereo panning. As I listen, his voice seems to dance around my head, jumping from one ear to the other. It’s both disorienting and really cool, like being caught in a whirlwind of someone creeping over your shoulder. 

You look to one side, and he’s not there, you hear him on the other side, turn your head, and he’s still not there. But it’s not just a fancy trick; it actually adds to the song’s eerie vibe, making it feel like I’m right there in the middle of the action. Really love the effect of it going in from one earpiece right over to the second.

Then it takes a small pause, and for a split second. In this moment, the clickety-clack percussion and the guitar are left to their own devices, and it’s a really cool combination.  Just when I think I’ve got this song all figured out, a funky bassline slides in. It’s almost sneaky, the way it enters the track. But once it’s there, there’s no mistaking it – it adds a whole new layer of cool to the track. It doesn’t try to steal the spotlight, though. It just hangs back, enhancing the melody and rhythm with its own unique flavor.

The chorus hits, and it’s like stepping into a different dimension. All the subtle echoes and washed-out effects that marked the verses vanish, replaced by Ashley’s voice, now raw and powerful. It’s a night-and-day difference, showcasing her incredible range and ability to channel pure emotion.

The guitar, too, rises to the occasion, surging in to bolster her vocals with an undeniable force. The clarity of the sound is stunning; each strum, all the notes rings out, contributing to the overall impact. It’s a moment of crystal-clear revelation, like the veil that hung over the verses has been suddenly lifted.

This push-and-pull between the verses and chorus is one of the things that makes “Wolves At Your Back” so great. It’s a nice move to have such contrasting sections, but they pull it off very well. And even though Jim’s counterpoint vocals are absent in the chorus, it only makes the moments where their voices do intertwine even more impactful. Their combined sound is awesome, a harmonious blend of power.

As the chorus fades, I hear the song returning to the clickety-clack rhythm that’s become its signature sound of the verses. The rhythm, combined with those darker, atmospheric tones, pulls me right back into the song’s strange and wonderful world. Ashley’s voice returns, once again with that evocative quality that draws me deeper into the track.

And again, with Jim’s vocals, sounding like a radio transmission from another time, continue to add layers to song. I mean, it’s not like the transatlantic accent, but it’s kinda close to it. It’s a nostalgic yet modern effect, a blend of old and new that’s pulled off here so nicely.

And the guitar work – I can’t say enough about how good it is. It’s like a voice, expressing emotions and ideas that words alone can’t capture. It’s a vital element that takes the song to another level, providing a rich backdrop for the vocals to truly shine against.

 The solo is an absolute beast, a relentless fury of sound that blows away anything else I’ve heard in psychedelic music. It’s not just about the sheer power, but the emotion poured into it.  The song’s duality, something I’ve mentioned before, is on full display here. The darker side that’s been simmering beneath the surface erupts, turning the track into a full-blown adrenaline anthem. It’s an great surge of energy that takes things to a whole new level. And then, as if to give us a moment to recover, the song circles back to the chorus, supercharged with the energy of the solo.

Now the song seems like it’s a story that unfolds, revealing the rise and fall of a once-respected leader who’s now facing the consequences of his own actions. It’s about someone who’s lost their way, trapped by their own lies and the intoxicating taste of power.

At the core of this story is the idea of justice – the fact that it’s unavoidable and always comes to collect its due. The song reminds us that no matter how high you climb, there’s a higher power at play. And one that really hits well on the points of  the pursuit of power for its own sake, a path that can leave you isolated with only the echoes of your wrongdoings for company.

As the song progresses, it becomes more about freedom. The wolves at the back aren’t just predators but they’re liberators, the agents of change that drive out the old ways and usher in a new era. They represent the collective strength of those who’ve been wronged, their unity a force as powerful as any kingdom.

I’m blown away by what Waking Stone has accomplished with “Wolves At Your Back.” This is my first encounter with their music, and I’m already hooked and craving more. The lyrics are great and thought-provoking, the music is fresh, the guitar work is killer, the production is simply top-notch. They’ve created something very cool here. Be sure to check out the single, add it to your playlist, and check out the others as well, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for more from the duo.

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