Loose Wing is a new Seattle-based band fronted by songwriter Claire Tucker. The four-piece group will issue its self-titled debut album on March 22nd, consisting of nine songs that fearlessly explore themes of anxiety, isolation, intimacy, and teen angst that has yet to be outgrown. Along with Tucker (Guitars, Vocals, Keys), Loose Wing features Tucker’s husband Jack Peters (Bass), Rusty Willoughby (Drums, Percussion), and Bill Patton (Guitar, Pedal Steel.)
Despite the weighty subject matter, Tucker’s tunes maintain an easy confidence throughout the album, with melodies that often remind of a Neko Case or PJ Harvey-fronted R.E.M., which despite that band’s origins in the furthest continental corner (Athens, GA) from the home of grunge, has always maintained a spiritual tie to Seattle. Other contemporary influences on Loose Wing include Kate Bush and Guided by Voices.
Throughout the album, Loose Wing’s elegant incorporation of string accompaniment pops up at just the right moments to deepen the drama of Tucker’s lyrics, while also providing counterpoint to the band’s Peter Buck-ish guitar sound. Speaking of – R.E.M. and Nirvana used similar surprising string techniques that helped elevate both bands as examples of rock groups that ultimately prioritized the service of their songs over everything else.
“Beverly,” the first single from Loose Wing, shows this off best, adding touches that also remind of Teenage Fanclub when the string section swells. The song leads into the 60’s girl-group sing-along “Moving Blankets,” which sonically takes us an hour south to Olympia, WA, arguably one of America’s indie rock ground zeroes, being the launch pad of seminal record labels Kill Rock Stars and K. The fresh sound of this song, also featuring that gorgeous string section, is attributable to Loose Wing’s well-honed skills, as the tune was only practiced about a half-dozen times before the version featured here was recorded.
“It’s a mix of guitar styles,” Tucker says of the album. “All my playing before Loose Wing was very fussy, intricate fingerpicking. I had never really done much with effects pedals, but I forced myself to learn new techniques, and focus on playing guitar and branching out stylistically.” Tucker has since amassed two pedal boards full of effects. “I also started listening to a lot of music that I had forgotten about: Slowdive, The Church, and Echo and The Bunnymen.”
Tucker is just as meticulous with her lyrics, and if they seem dark, that fact can’t be solely attributed to the lingering teen angst mentioned previously. Tucker and her bandmates are all in their 40’s and 50’s, which means that Loose Wing only sounds like the freedom of youth. In actuality, Tucker’s songs and the band’s playing comes off effortlessly because so much difficult living has already been put into perspective and dealt with.
Photo by Doug Arney
“I was feeling a lot of anxiety about what I think I should have accomplished by this age as an artist,” Tucker explains. “Feeling like a late bloomer,” she admits. Speaking directly to the album’s themes, Tucker elaborates about “Beverly,” saying “This song depicts a fictional 1950’s-era marriage, told as a dialogue between a controlling husband and a stifled, self-medicating wife. She continues, “But it’s also a reflection of my internal dialogue, between the side of me that needs to make art to stay sane and the side that tries to push that aside to be a responsible adult.”
Similarly, “Moving Blankets” is about the challenges of true emotional intimacy, albeit set against an addictive bed of upbeat jangle pop.
The album’s opener “Heather Army” is perhaps its most lighthearted and the most “Seattle” of the bunch. Tucker explains, “We didn’t set out to record a grunge song, but the word came up a lot during the process. The Seattle music scene in the 90’s definitely left its mark on each of us.” Tucker goes on to explain the song’s lyrics, saying, “It’s about finding your people and fighting to keep going when you haven’t yet found the ones who care or agree with your ideals.”
With that, “Heather Army” may prove that the freedom of youth and the freedom that comes with accepting adult responsibility may actually be able to co-exist after all. If so, the tune is worth a second listen to bookend the album once the last groove of closing tune “Sails” has played out.
Loose Wing’s self-titled debut album is out March 22nd, preceded by the singles “Beverly,”“Moving Blankets,” and “Heather Army.”
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