If you’ve been following JOVM for the past couple of months, you might be familiar with the Lexington, KY-based band Ancient Warfare and “Gunsmoke,” the first single off the newly-minted quartet’s forthcoming effort, The Pale Horse, slated for an August 11 release through Alias Records. And as I mentioned in that post, the band can trace their origins to when its founding member and creative mastermind Echo Wilcox (vocals, guitar) waswas studying photography and motion graphics at the Savannah College of Art and Design. During the winter of 2010, Wilcox approached Duane Lundy of Shangri-La Productions with a collection of loosely established songs heavily informed by a process that involved translating traditional visuals into a conceptual soundscape. Eventually, Lundy became a producer and collaborator as Wilcox fleshed out her original compositions into a full-length album. Over the subsequent years, a number of collaborators were recruited to assist Wilcox in fleshing out her sound, and as a result the band went through a number of iterations.
The project’s latest and most current iteration features Wilcox, multi-instrumentalist Emily Hagihara (who’s best known for working with Chico Fellini and Jim James, along with her solo work), violinist Rachael Yanarella (of Oh My Me) and recently recruited bassist, Derek Rhineheimer (also of Oh My Me). And whereas the album’s first single “Gunsmoke” meshed 60s pop and chamber music with a swooning romanticism, the album’s latest single “The Last Living Trial” is a brooding and gorgeous ballad that sounds as though it were inspired by Patti Smith — but with a subtle country twang, a lush string arrangement and Wilcox’s smoky and expressive vocals. At the core of this song is a story about two desperately in love lovers on the run, camping in desolate, moonlit forest with their passion being compared to a raging conflagration that burns the woods down. But interestingly, the song’s narrative is told as a very vivid and eerie flashback, as though the heroine’s love had recently died — and in a fashion familiar to Edgar Allen Poe, the heroine seems to have a similar sort of obsession with a lost lover.