The blending of indie singer/songwriter feel, and country music influences heard on Will Rainier’s Wobble in the Moon represents a newfound maturity in his recording output. Rainier has long loomed as a formidable talent in the indie music world with a score of releases, solo and otherwise, to his credit. The ten new songs on this album, however, delve deeper and resonate longer than his earlier work without forsaking the qualities that brought him to the dance. I haven’t zealously followed his career at every juncture, but I’m thoroughly impressed with the development that Wobble in the Moon reveals.
Rainier’s lyrics veer between a conversational style and a more poeticized slant. There’s evidence galore for the former during the album’s opening track “The Patio”. It’s a reflective track sans any of the navel-gazing lesser sophistic songwriters practice and it’s doubly pleasing to my ears that you hear the song’s initial skeleton, acoustic guitar, strumming beneath the other instruments. Rainier produced the album himself and adroitly manages the disparate strands powering this and other songs.
“Are You Waving Goodbye?” is an undisputed highlight. Raymond Richards’ pedal steel playing strings a recurring melancholic through an arrangement heavy on country music influences. Rainier’s wife Jen Garrett makes invaluable contributions to the album, but this song gives her a particular chance to shine duetting with her husband. The juxtaposition of their voices is ideal. Rainier turns into ominous territory with “Dark Secret Heart”. This song makes bigger use of atmospheric touches than the album’s opening tandem and comes off as heavily stylized country without ever sidelining substance along the way.
The title song is full of poetic charm. Rainier’s penchant for evocative imagery helps “Wobble in the Moon” stand out, especially around the track’s chorus. The duo of pianist Christine Hager and Raymond Richards’ pedal steel are important cogs in earlier songs, but they reach even greater heights during “Wobble in the Moon”. Richards, in particular, is key, never overwhelming us with his playing, yet indispensable to the song’s final effects.
Rainier crafts “To Supreme” from much of the same cloth as the earlier “Dark Secret Heart”. They explore different subject matters in notable varied fashion, however, but this song will be a favorite for many listeners. It’s a song nominally about the assorted low-end bars Rainier has patroned over the years that, in the end, says much more about the songwriter than any tavern. I’m quite taken with this track.
Light streams forth from “Somewhere Tonight” thanks to its irresistible melodic jangle. It’s further adorned with Christine Hager’s colorful piano fills and an attention-grabbing piano melody. Pedal steel and piano are foundational parts of the songwriting for a final time on the album’s closer “Into the Dark”. Kevin Suggs mans the pedal steel guitar playing for this one, however, and proves just as capable as his counterpart Richards, albeit with a notably different style. It complements the preceding songs and underlines the overall cohesion that makes Will Rainier’s Wobble in the Moon his best solo release yet.