Don’t let the band name With Wolves deceive you—it’s actually a one-man piece with Mike Rosen handling all the writing, arrangements and performances. Charting a hefty space between For Now… and Too Much, Rosen returns three years later to straddle that line between west coast folk and, as he calls it, classic country.
Rosen is deft in his approach, weaving in some Americana and easing up on the country sway with welcome accuracy. Musically he delves more into the quietly intimate tones of the indie folk genre, plucking and strumming away on a lone acoustic guitar as he nudges his way into the titular opening track.
Harmonica in hand, he tips things south as the song progresses, transitioning into the more lively “Be My Weakness.” But while “Too Much” saw Rosen opting for classically country vocals, he eases up on the following tracks, offering a smoother and gentler accompaniment.
But it’s “When Tomorrow Comes” that gives Too Much its irresistible pull as the melodic, subdued track lures its listeners into its half-regretful reflections. Minimalist and potent, and marking the near half-way point of the album, it shifts what follows as Rosen levels the power of his one-man, stripped production.
Not even the rambunctious by comparison “I’ll Try” can shake the solemnity seeping into the songs through Rosen lamenting sojourn and a quick return to the desolate, gripping pace makes for a satisfying choice—lulling the album back into soothing wishfulness that sees Rosen protest, “I’m alright/ For tonight hold me close” and begging for a wrenching temporary reprieve.
And while Rose again shifts out of that dreamy, dark place, Too Much is never as satisfying as when he luxuriates in the simplest of performances, and the most melancholic of lyrics. His hushed moments command attention even as he—rightfully—knows not to dwell on them too deeply. But it’s what they manage to evoke that lingers, sending me back for another play to find myself pulled to that place one more time.
Top Tracks: “When Tomorrow Comes”; “For Tonight”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)