Home Editor Picks Wyatt C. Louis Finds Growth and Grace on ‘Chandler’ | Exclaim!

Wyatt C. Louis Finds Growth and Grace on ‘Chandler’ | Exclaim!

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Wyatt C. Louis Finds Growth and Grace on ‘Chandler’  | Exclaim!

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Wyatt C. Louis fills their lungs with Chinook winds and breathes new life into the hulking behemoth that is modern indie folk with their debut album Chandler. The Treaty 6 singer-songwriter has crafted a collection of warm, pensive and vulnerable songs that teem with prairie life and discordant views of the place they call home.

Chandler has been a long time coming. It’s been nearly four years since the single “Dancing with Sue” first dropped, but Louis made sure that the wait was worth it. You can feel the care and attention Louis has poured into these tracks over the intervening years, and the result is an album that’s road-tested and fully-formed. Chandler hardly feels like a debut, but rather an album from a confident and capable songwriter with quite a few soundchecks under their belt.

Chandler’s sound has firm roots in country, infused with tinges of gentle folk and ambling rock, but to pin it to those labels feels reductive. Louis expertly draws on their influences, from Feist and Chuck Berry to William Prince, to build a sonic landscape unique to themselves. Colin Carbonera’s production serves as the perfect complement to Louis’s songwriting, filling the atmosphere with warm tones that envelop and soothe. Understated and soulful drumming pushes them forward while Jesse Shire bounces and grooves on bass, delivering some of the most memorable bass lines on a country record in recent memory. The laid-back percussion leaves plenty of room for the rest of the band to stretch their legs, but when Kyle Donauer gets his chance for a drum fill, he doesn’t waste it. Warm hues fill all the space between and wrap around you like a warm hug, whether it be in the form of woodwinds, pedal steel or strings.

Louis’s surroundings dominate the tone of Chandler. The instruments mimic Louis’s surroundings as they recount memories from their upbringing and beyond; the warmth of summer, the bone-chilling winter. “Dancing with Sue” is a playful and tongue-in-cheek ode to the people who raised them. Louis toys with rigid ideas of the gender binary, and an otherwise catchy tune becomes a finger in the eye of typical Albertan country music.

Everything about Chandler feels familiar, from the sound to the lyrics — it’ll make you want to visit home and have a glass of lemonade on the porch. Just as Louis celebrates the ambiguity of gender, their poetic instincts leave the listener with plenty of ambiguity to chew on; these songs will continue to open up to you with each subsequent listen. While Chandler, on its face, feels warm and tender, its charm runs much deeper than the surface. Songwriting like this requires a deep well of vulnerability, and Louis paired that vulnerability with the utmost care and attention to the musical craft. Louis is carving out space for themselves in the country music scene, a space that is altogether more tender, thoughtful and connected to the human experience.

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