Adrian Mack wrote a zinger of a review for Out Of The Woodwork in the Georgia Straight! Thanks Adrian!! Check 'er out by clicking the link…
Sarah Wheeler's Out of the Woodwork is gutsy and expansive
Out of the Woodwork (Poncho)
Sarah Wheeler’s latest has been a long time coming—six years since the under-the-radar singer-songwriter gave us Black Helicopters, in fact. Like that fine record, Out of the Woodwork showcases Wheeler’s feel for turning her likable folk and country-rock compositions into something gutsy and expansive. This comes down partly to her own effortlessly big voice—which falls somewhere between Chrissie Hynde and Neko Case—and partly to the boombastic, slide-drenched arrangements and production she cooks up with producer and musical partner Dave Gannett.
Even the ballads on Out of the Woodwork have a sort of portentousness, like the wall-of-sound and vaguely mystical, Celtic-sounding preamble that characterizes the lovely “Rest of Our Lives”. Three minutes later, Wheeler is busting a lung over the words “pain in the ass” on “Remembrance Day”, a song that has the presence of a 40-foot lady ape stomping on her enemies. (That’s a compliment.)
This strategy of blowing everything up to match the size of Wheeler’s talent tends to make Out of the Woodwork plod a little in places, but she reins it in on “Blowing Dandelions”, “Green Papaya”, and especially the gorgeous “Camellia”. Wheeler also moves a little closer to explicit roots territory on “Big Time”, which comes about as near to a country song as it can without falling off the edge, and she’s a howlin’ muddy blues harpy on the excellently titled “I Am Not a Black Man”. In either case, those songs sprinkle enough spice on Out of the Woodwork to make it well worth the wait, although it’d be nice to get another dispatch before the next half decade passes.