Grant Wallace Band spent four years on their debut LP, Axle of the World (with Rabbit)--an ongoing, continuously palimpsesting studio project that grew and changed and was never quite complete. They didn’t quite manage to finish it before vocalist Ben Hjertmann left Chicago to take a job as professor of composition at Appalachian State University. So the spring of 2015 saw the band gather in Boone, North Carolina, with nearly a complete LP in their pocket, to finish tracking and mixing. That same week they took two days to stretch out in the studio and record some of their latest compositions and arrangements, mostly in full live takes. Four Songs is the result.
It was supposed to be a folk EP, but the jazz-influenced "Oranjestraat" and the icy, mysterious "Blue Winter Hymnal" refused to be left off the tracklist. The band's well-worn arrangement of the folk standard "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" rounds out the album alongside their collaboratively-written gem of wordplay and folksy sweetness, "The Bright Sun Brings It To Light."
If Axle is the sound of three composers giving it everything, bringing every idea, every lark and impulse to the table over the course of years, Four Songs is the sound of a working band, the harmony of a group who has learned to sing together the old-fashioned way, by doing so for unknowable hours. The performances are gutty and spontaneous, refined in instinct but loose and raw in execution.