Multi-instrumentalist and integral component of alternativehip-hop darlings Why? Josiah Wolf has taken a step aside from hismain project and made an album of hisown. Jet Lag is produced by sibling and Why? frontman Yoni Wolf, butits parts are constructed solely by Josiah, who will surprise manywith his knack for writing open-minded folk songs with an autumnalcharm.
There isn’t a great deal of difference between what’s fashioned onJet Lag and Why?’s recent output. 2009’s Eskimo Snow dealswith conveying deep heartfelt emotions alongside a sound thatcomes from the most bitter cold, and Jet Lag thrives in the sameenvironment.
But where Yoni Wolf’s tones pulse and guide the momentum of asong, Josiah is more of a gently-spoken storyteller, with a voicethat flips from fragile and at breaking point to deep andresounding, resembling that of his brother’s. Thevulnerability of his vocals assists the likes of Master Cleanse(California) and Is The Body Hung in sounding soft and tame; thetap-tap percussion; the dithering marimba patterns; the invitingguitar plucking, all combine beautifully with Josiah’s soothingnarrative.
At times the songwriting method borders on repetitive. Insteadof pitting a catchy verse with an even catchier chorus, Wolf choosesto invite the listener in with an infectious hook – usually through anacoustic guitar – before breaking down the thin blanket of atmosphereand introducing something completely different, almost as if he’s losthis train of thought, be it through boredom or scatterbrainedness. Either way, when you crave something morefrom Jet Lag, it tends to disappoint.
Skull In The Ice is an exception; perhaps the most tender of allthe songs, it begins with a stripped-down strum and evolves in thechorus with luscious, rich surroundings. It’s the sort of crescendoall these tales deserve, but the hungover state of affairs that ringssupreme in this record seldom allows for this to happen.
In truth, that whimsical, semi-conscious state of mind rarelyhinders Jet Lag. In fact it tends to go arm-in-arm with Josiah’sstories of big cities and pretty girls very nicely. But any break intrend – such as through Ohioho: a sun-tinged, care-free, mid-afternoonanthem – is always welcomed, because this is the kind of album thatweighs on you with repeated listens. It could do with taking notesfrom Ohioho, because it’s this ilk of uplifting, cacophonous soundthat suits Why? and Josiah so well.
Nevertheless it’s refreshing to see an often unsung hero break outof his shell and prove himself to be an accomplished songwriter and,best of all, singer. And it strengthens the theory that Why? are amelting pot of talent, still with plenty more to offer.