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Album Review | Wovenhome's debut EP is a revelation


“Waving Trees,” is the six-song debut effort from Wovenhome, a folk band led by painter-musicians Hayley Dayis and Alexander Fals, who split their time between Rochester and Popayán, Columbia. But the EP — which is rounded out by Gary Lamaar on drums and vocals and multi-instrumentalist Shaun Jones — goes well beyond standard American acoustic fare and exceeded my expectations.

The opener “Totumo” has a brisk waltz feel driven by Lamaar’s in-the-pocket drumming and Jones’s sumptuous bass line. The harmonies from Dayis and Fals are nothing short of brilliant.

On the title track, the analog warmth of an African harp called a 'ngoni' stands in sharp contrast to the hi-resolution sound of Fals and Dayis’s vocals. The melody evokes the feeling of a lullaby as it nestles into a samba-like syncopated groove.

“Summer Rain” continues the EP’s emphasis on rhythmic subtleties and the primacy of the beat that prevails throughout.

“Praise the Sun'' is emblematic of the unlikely stylistic tightrope Wovenhome walks between New Age and hip-hop, and it’s explicit in the contrast between the vaguely spiritual chorus (“It’s just one day spinning endlessly after me/ It’s just one ray of light that’s always on fire”) and Lamaar’s enlightened rhymes, which are buoyed by Fals’s pentatonic riffs on the ngoni and a classic boom-bap rhythm on the drums.

The instrumental track “Sunrise on Mount Abe” comes off as earthy techno, with time signature changes and a tricky rhythmic feel in five that does nothing to deter the music’s danceability.

Wovenhome’s innovative folk-pop and international inspiration are a revelation, making “Waving Trees” the best recording I’ve heard out of Rochester this year.

Daniel J. Kushner is an arts writer at CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].