Injecting groove and positivity into their organic Americana sound, three-piece band High & Rising bring their unique brand of “Groovy Grass” to life on their debut full-length record, Howl, set to hit streaming services September 24th.
Hailing from River Falls, Wisconsin, High & Rising is pioneered by Laura Farley (upright bass/vocals), who is supported by her husband, Jym Farley (acoustic guitar), and Ben Rohde (percussion). Together, they masterfully blend classic Americana sounds with groove, folk, jam, and bluegrass into what they have cleverly dubbed as “Groovy Grass.”
Despite the band forming right as the pandemic took effect, High & Rising has steadily grown in popularity within the Wisconsin music scene and beyond. This is in part due to the band organizing several livestream concerts, many of which have generated thousands upon thousands of views, and have featured other rising musicians from the Upper Midwest.
After listening through their debut full length record Howl, it’s not hard to see why they have managed to gain a sterling reputation among their many fans and followers. The trio has produced a record with non-stop feel-good jams containing lyrics that radiate positivity. It’s a fresh and groovy take on Americana and bluegrass, and a breath of fresh air for a genre where groove and danceability is often an afterthought.
The first song on the record, “Lookin’ for the Good,” perfectly captures the group’s ethos. With the care-free swing of the piano and Farley’s groovy and whimsical vocals, it’s clear that the band is here to dance and have a good time.
Their first single and second track on the record, “The Days,” begins with droning strings accompanied by a melodic guitar picking over top, but the song quickly explodes into a lightning-fast yet groovy bluegrass jam. Fiddles dance energetically while harmonicas and fiddles soar over the guitars and Farley’s triumphant vocals. All the while, the steady and driving beat from Rohde’s percussion effortlessly ties these many elements together.
For their second single and title track of the record, “Howl,” the band departs from their groove-centric and energetic sound, and instead opts for a slower and heartfelt ballad. Farley’s voice, which is often reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, gracefully croons over the gentle but rich strumming of her husband’s acoustic guitar. But as the song nears its end, seemingly out of the darkness, the band jumps back into a driving beat, letting sunshine peak through the clouds.
“Mississippi National,” the fifth track on the record, is an upbeat love letter to the American South where the band fully embraces their love for their Americana and bluegrass heritage. The tune inspires images of sipping moonshine on the Mississippi river and dancing the night away on a hot and humid summer night.
The aptly named final track, “Wild Ride,” is a brilliant finale for an album that could also be described as a “Wild Ride.” Farley’s transcendent and ethereal vocals are accompanied by Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque harmonized guitars. For the second part of the song, a fuzzed-out and reverb-drenched guitar solo is accompanied by dreamy strings and horns. It’s a triumphant and glorious send off that leaves the listener wanting more.
Howl is an uncompromisingly authentic and heartfelt record that creatively injects an infectious groove and warmth into traditional Americana and bluegrass sounds. It’s a fun, triumphant record that will undoubtedly be ringing through the hills of Wisconsin and beyond.