Coming in at just under forty minutes, the second album from Ola Podrida, the nom de plume of David Wingo, is nine tracks of golden folk fodder. The Texan singer-songwriter has created a sophomore LP of subtle, ambient songs, full of quietly restrained emotion, giving the listener space with abstract sounds and images that are then personalised by Wingo's intimate delivery.
The cinematic feel of the album is no coincidence, Wingo best known for creating soundtracks for director David Gordon Green, including the horrendously underrated and beautifully orchestrated All The Real Girls. Wingo continues to write scores for a number of directors, including Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame, and has shared stages with Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Explosions in the Sky. That said, the man's CV should not be more heavily discussed than his current musical output.
Describing the album as "unsentimental love songs", Wingo has used atmospheric layering, texture and poeticism to tread an American folk trail familiar to Iron and Wine et al, but with a certain uniqueness. Opening track 'The Closest We Will Ever Be' has down-stated beats and sun-drenched reoccurring countrified guitar hooks. 'We All Radiant' gives more to the percussion section, with atmospheric, shimmering cymbal sounds adding to the swell, creating a steady build to meagre burst. Lyrically, this seems to be an album of songs for loves won and lost, recalling (mis)adventures of a Southern youth. Since his 2005 self-titled debut, Wingo has honed his skills as a wordsmith, the album lyrically adept throughout. 'Your Father's Basement', the first single from the record, is poignantly poetic and reminiscently dark (â€œBet your dad keeps some booze there, in a place he thinks we'll never findâ€). Delicate percussion compliments the layered vocals.
Belly of the Lion, although mostly downbeat, has its more raucous moments, 'Monday Morning' bringing quavering electric guitars and Explosions In The Sky-esque vibrating reverberations. 'Donkey' possesses that familiar Sufjan banjo-like sound, building to a brass fanfare. The melodies push the singer's range to the upper limits, leaning toward a tone similar to Ladyhawk, then falling to a quieter, more delicate Nick Drake-like tone. Containing the album title, 'Donkey' is a musical and lyrical highlight: â€œWhen the evening light is fading, I'm still waiting for your wayward kiss. In the belly of the lion, I am trying to remember what we missed.
Recorded at home, the record exemplifies an organic yet balanced sound often so difficult to come by, the warm voice close in the speakers, teetering towards Will Oldham at times. Deceptively simple and measured throughout, Belly of the Lion lays out an emotional landscape through its evocative imagery and measured attention to detail, carved by a knowing hand.