With his constant output of singles and EPs—including several this year alone—Will Oldham has a lot of opportunities to try new things. And while he frequently changes collaborators and styles on his under-the-radar releases, his LPs have increasingly remained faithful to a familiar brand of rustic folk. So there isn’t much surprising about the sparse, hushed Wolfroy Goes To Town; most of the tracks employ Oldham’s fragile vocals and gentle acoustic strumming, and not much else. This time around, he also gets help from Chicago songwriter Angel Olsen, whose soft harmonies are a bewitching contribution. Oldham and Olsen are natural complements, and sound perfectly paired, whether on songs suitable for smoky country bars, or a quiet, enchanting campfire.
The record’s choral flourishes often breathe life into otherwise aimlessly ambling tracks, like on the expansive climaxes of “New Tibet” and “Cows,” and the drifting, dreamy conclusion of “Black Captain.” With a blend of creeping melancholy (“There Will Be Spring”) and relaxed beats (“Quail And Dumplings”), Wolfroy is emotionally stirring and softly jaunty. While other folk stars have recently explored new territory, it’s reassuring that Oldham has stayed the course. Let Sam Beam stretch out and get funky; it’s nice to know that albums as comfortably reliable as Wolfroy Goes To Town are still being made.