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Wake Owl & Lyla Foy: Ambient Folk at The Ark, Ann Arbor

Wake Owl, The Ark, Ann Arbor
April 21, 2014: Vancouver, B.C.’s Wake Owl (Vagrant Records), and Lyla Foy (Sub Pop), from London, U.K. played Ann Arbor’s shrine of acoustic, The Ark. Both acts are the essence of  ambient-indie-folk, with songs that followed earnest, genuine traditions of Folk music. Think: Nick Drake, Bon Iver.

Wake Owl’s performance wove together complex instrumentation, intense lyrics, a nod to country twang, and served it chilled-out.  With such lyrical and compositional skill, it was a little disappointing that not one band member took the opportunity to speak with the audience. There was maybe a sentence or two spoken to the audience during Wake Owl’s performance, but that lack of interaction was compensated for by intensity and passion. As a live performing band, Wake Owl has room to grow, but that shouldn’t be too difficult for these guys if they allow themselves to loosen up a bit and bring the audience into the experience.

Lyla Foy’s (she formerly performed as WALL with the same band) approach was disarming, with her small frame cloaked in a long, roomy, black clothing -- in fact, she nearly blended into the black curtains behind the stage. However, it was foolish to let her sweet, Goth-librarian appearance fool me, for there was a sense that she’s probably a bit of a bad ass. Lyla Foy’s instrumentation looked effortless, and sounded exquisite. Her performance was a set of songs characterized by intricate melodies, along with abstract, poetic, honest lyrics.  Backed by two other musicians -- a drummer and another guitar player -- the band flaunted expert musicianship, and created rich, complex sounds. Looking toward the future, it’s likely that Lyla Foy will grow comfortable with her stage presence, and in time will propel forward as a serious force in music.