While Dark Road is their debut release, The Wanting have already garnered considerable attention in their hometown New Orleans with a performance at this year’s Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival. This seven-track collection fits loosely into the Southern Gothic genre, although it’s really more haunting than it is harrowing, more Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris (or at least Will Oldham and Angel Olsen) than it is 16 Horsepower or Gun Club. Singer-songwriters Chris Jacob and Cate Swan’s vocals blend seamlessly, while bandmates Chad Robin’s harmonium and Peter J Bowling’s bowed bass find that droney sweet spot between minimalist chamber-pop and high-lonesome Appalachian folk.
Produced by Ben Mumphrey (Dash Rip Rock, Frank Black) at Bogalusa’s Studio in the Country, the album make good use of the facility’s free-standing echo chamber, which has in the past been employed by the legendary Tony Joe White and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Jacob’s opening lines on the title track (“Poor boy was a lawyer, from Eastern Tennessee/ And that necktie was a noose, for him and for me”) all but beg to be covered by Nick Cave, while the elegiacally tuneful “My Woes” would have fit nicely into the Fairport Convention songbook. Meanwhile, Swan’s “Chapels of Dust” somehow manages to retain its aching beauty even as it rhymes “It’s odd to me” with “lobotomy.” The album’s one drawback is its brevity, clocking in at less than 30 minutes. Then again, it never hurts to leave the audience wanting more.