While looking up “Beware Wolves” on Spotify for the sake of this review I was met with an artist page that had a simple, but smart and elegant graphic of a howling wolf, and no text whatsoever. There was no artist bio in sight, it was blank, and in the discography section there wasn’t a single Beware Wolves Vol.’X’ release, there were 9. I proceeded to find out that the illusive Bostonian has released his entire body of work over the course of a single month, in 9 distinct collections of songs.
Uniformly hovering around 25 minutes long, each collection is numbered one to nine, with each album featuring a unique anagram on its cover that consists of a geometric shape with the exact same number of strokes as the number of the album itself. No other release data was found. Minor details, I know, but they point in the direction of an artist that values his creations more than any gain, a smart one who has set out to capture the hearts with music and the minds with his puzzling lack of identity. I got hooked before I started listening.
The first volume is enough to give you a taste of what Beware Wolves is all about. What he does is essentially good music with poetic musings. He delivers this using his distinctive, far-reaching vocal capabilities, and an acoustic guitar, sometimes strummes, sometimes picked. Every now and then he features a piano line, an interesting bassline, or a peculiar effect. Simplistic, captivating, and picturesque pieces take shape as their music is suitably arranged on the guitar, and lovingly sung.
After The War is a stunning starter with a unique, dynamic performance that features very little more than guitar and voice that writhe and shapeshift, getting lower and higher, to accommodate the shifting mood of the lyrics. It is boasted that most songs on all albums have been recorded in a single take, mostly on the day they were written. But if there were a few exceptions, Anna would definitely be one of them. The stunning ballad features haunting, loving, and mystical lyricisms on top of a vintage Vaudeville arrangement with a hazy production and a cloudy sound.
The music is definitely tear-jerking with a tasteful guitar that occasionally rips across the soundscape. More highlights include the playful, tongue-in-cheek Another Song. A minimal love song that seems directed to a particular person, like most other songs on the album by the way. Around & Down is a dreamy stunner that has some of the most personal and sweet lyrics, as well as one of the most distinctive vocal hooks on the whole album. Back To You features grand acoustic guitars in a folky arrangement that sounds vintage, familiar, and cozy.
For my personal taste, the album could have benefited from more interesting instrumental hooks, as the singer/songwriter style tends to get a little monotonous and sustained for so long. But the artistic musical value these songs carry is more than enough to keep things fresh and interesting. Add to that the sense of mystery that the artist created with his elusiveness and confidence, and it won’t take you much time to realize that this collection of 81 songs, released in that peculiar manner, is nothing short of bold and admirable. If you’re a fan of heartfelt acoustic folk, then Beware Wolves will be an absolute treasure chest for you to dive into, as you will spend more than four whole hours exploring their impressive and mystical body of work.