Published Jun 24, 2014It's not tough to imagine the six members of Madison, Wisconsin folk band Phox living together under one roof. The recordings on their debut self-titled full-length exhibit an intimacy akin to an impromptu living room session, an embracing warmth that can only develop from a close-knit clan. In this case, that living room just so happens to be Justin Vernon's April Base home studio in Eau Claire, WI.
The band, composed of high school friends, create rustic melodies that adhere to the folk and pop essentials, resulting in a harmonious blend of instruments that occasionally draws on the woodwind and stringed elements to expand their sound. All of that almost becomes secondary, though, to Phox's biggest asset: singer Monica Martin's versatile voice. Martin weaves and curves around each song, guiding listeners through the banjo riffs on the whistling highlight "Slow Motion" or dancing above pianos and violins on "Satyr and The Faun." There is a lack of variety, with most songs comfortably sitting in the mid-tempo range, but comfort appears to be something Phox tries to establish in everything they do. So, in that aspect, they've succeeded. (Partisan)