By Lindsay Smith-Boam
David van Vuurren won South African Idol in 2011 but had slipped away like many other talent show winners into obscurity despite having an excellent voice. He formed Southern Wild in 2015 and they have made waves with their live performances around their home country of South Africa and the fast developing music scene in and around Cape Town. “Lead Role in a Classic Horror” is their first album due to be released on 15th July.
Southern Wild are David van Vuuren, vocals / guitar, Julian van Rensburg, guitar, Alex Smillie, bass and Dylan Hunt on drums.
The opening track, “Intro”, with its rhythmic drumming and crisp, clean clarity to soaring riffs and layers of sound, begins a pretty good and interesting listen. “The People” has a repeated riff and a preciseness to the guitar that grabs you in before the vocal joins the party. Lovely rolling melodies.
“Time Eraser” with more bluesy tones and a delicacy to the melody allowing a delicious vocal to sit above it. “Lead Role” has a very light feel to the melody and vocal but it has ripples ebbing and flowing just below it allowing depth to the music.
“In A Classic Horror “All I could think of was Ed Sheeran crossed with Anthony Keidis – not the best image to conjure up but one that the vocal and music triggered in my slightly strange brain. Again there are some lovely riffs and a bluesy rhythm which grows and it becomes a much better track in its second half. “Darkness At My Heels” with a beautiful acoustic guitar and David’s melodic tones begin the track. A good lyric and catchy melody. “I’m So Happy I Could Die” upbeat and a happy vibe with a strong vocally led track which opens out allowing it to alter its course into a riff rich and low bass conclusion.
“Dirt Horse” Cracking track! This is what I want to hear more of from these guys! Energy, earthiness and some great playing. When the music rocks out it really does! This is the best track on the album musically for me with layers running through giving it a powerful feel from the native low chanting to the reflective chords of the bassline. An instrumental and a great track.
“Emotion Electric Love” Lyrically strong and a great repetitive chorus keeps this one playing through in your brain and you can’t fault the playing – melodic, emotional and strong. “Feels Like The Ocean” guitar driven track with riffs galore, a great rich vocal taking nothing away from the power of the music as it crashes into an epic fullness punctuated with an aggression, smashing its way though and slapping your ears around in spectacular style.
Southern Wild definitely have some great tracks here but I feel that they are only just finding their own identity. The tracks that have an aggression, and a harder rock feel, showcase great musical ability and great playing. The vocals are delivered with passion and a wonderful tone; I really like David’s voice, his range and the tones and emotions that come through. However, some of songs don’t really work for me, they don’t feel like they fit with the album, they feel like they belong to a solo artist which due to David’s background isn’t completely surprising, but they simply feel out of place on this album. I’m sure this will change as the band record more material and develop their songwriting and producing style.
That said, I’d be delighted to hear more songs and if they come over and play some gigs in the UK, I’ll be the first one in the queue.