Their handle may imply that they harbor some sort of over-the-top intent, but, in fact, The High & Wides stay the course throughout their new, oddly named offering Seven True Stories. We say “oddly” because, in fact, there are eleven songs contained herein, not the seven suggested in the title. Then again, why get hung up on mere detail? The band, which was formed in coastal Maryland in 2015, shares songs stirred with sincerity and sentiment — original offerings that convey tales with sometimes seedy scenarios, populated by individuals who seem to have dubious intents
Those nuanced narratives provide the spark that gives the High & Wide’s material added interest. Whether it’s the amped up enthusiasm of the self-described Reverie (“Don’t stop my reverie,” the singer pleads), or the weary and weathered Cloud Over Idaho, the personality and perspective give the material more than a hint of wry wisdom with their knowing point of view.
The band — Marc Dykeman (guitar, vocals), Sam Guthridge (banjo, mandolin, vocals), Nate Grower (fiddle), and Mike Buccino (bass) — may be detached from those they are observing, but their’s is a clear commitment to convey the material with the detail it deserves. The confidence and clarity of Self Made, the spry set-up of Reprise, and the manner in which Place No Stone segues from a gypsy waltz into an effusive rave-up by tagging on the traditional Sally Anne, all suggest a band able to fashion an effusive tapestry bereft of stodgy, unyielding reverence.
Indeed, many of their songs come across sounding like hootenannies and hoedowns, given the genuine sense of celebration that permeates the proceedings overall. Consequently, the good-natured sway of the album’s final entry, Lullaby and Postlude, sets up a sunny sing-along, suggesting that all are welcome to lock arms and participate in their celebratory stance.
At this point, The Hide & Wides are clearly maintaining the momentum begun with their well received debut, 2018’s Lifted. Attitude and expression find a clear connection in these environs, an obvious indication that the joy isn’t about to subside anytime soon.