On The Inside is the debut album from Wildflowers. Sisters Siddy and Kit Bennett formed the group three years ago with James Ashbury and Kendal Sant completing the line-up.
The Bennetts’ father is a jazz musician and they spent their youth travelling Britain and the mainland soaking up disparate styles of music. Their itinerant, rootless lifestyle is reflected in Wildflowers output. It is a blend of popular British folk and sixties’ Americana. The mostly acoustic set is heavily influenced by The Mamas & The Papas, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Eagles.
It's the perfect music for sitting in the garden in the sunshine. It’s also the ideal soundtrack for easing a hangover, or so I’m told. It’s the result of the band’s nomadic lifestyle, of long car journeys, no TV and endless loops of The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, and Ewan MacColl. It’s the music The Searchers would have done if they had access to today’s recording technology.
Their performance at the 2014 SXSW showcase in Austin brought them to the attention of Original 1265 Recordings in Detroit. The band then spent the rest of the year recording their first album between the Motor City and Brighton. Lead single, ‘Another Million Miles', is about the excitement of that time; signing their first contract, recording their debut album, and travelling to the USA.
Wildflowers have been touring with Tom Odell and Robert Plant. Earlier this summer they returned to the UK from Detroit for the “Race to Glasto”. Starting in Loch Lomond, they travelled the length of the country playing shows in locations picked by their fans, each day getting closer to their show at the Glastonbury Festival.
They have been described as “the bastard children of Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles”, and their four part harmonies and easy going, freewheeling charm live up to that description. Lead singer Siddy’s vocals are uncannily similar to those of Kirsty MacColl, with shades of Carole King and Janis Joplin at times.
There have been harsh words from some quarters that Wildflowers are too saccharine, that the music is cloying and unchallenging. But this is a band with both feet firmly in the mainstream and aiming squarely for broad appeal. That is the type of music they listen to and that they make. To expect them to do otherwise is akin to expecting One Direction to start performing free jazz improvisations. Every band deserves to be judged on their own merits, and musicians should make the music that they want to make, regardless of commercial sensibilities. To do otherwise would be disingenuous.
With On The Inside, what you hear is what you get. The combination of American rock and British folk is rooted in the '60s but also takes in more modern influences. Alanis Morissette, The Connells, The Lumineers and First Aid Kit are all reflected here and fans of those will do well with the Wildflowers.