Diving into Joseph Michael Wesolowski’s The Spine and Telephone Wire was a curious affair for me. Running just under 16 minutes, the 4 track EP should seem short, but after one listen-through, the melancholic folk songs provoke an aching familiarity that makes it feel like I’ve been listening for years. Spine is more than just a 4 track display of musical competence—it’s a beautiful moodscape that is as inviting as it is dismal.
“’Cause I lie inside a chalkboard, teacher scratching nails on my walls / and I’m staring at the floorboards, running bravely through these halls” starts Wesolowski on EP opener “Grange.” His lyrics are clever and contemplative throughout the record and are often times given the spotlight, as most of the instrumentation throughout Spine (usually an acoustic guitar coupled with waves of ambient noise in the background) sits slightly behind his soft howl in the mix. His singing style is warm and wounded, evoking hints of Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, with a touch of Will Sheff of Okkervil River.
All four tracks sound undoubtedly haunted, but “Crist” (my personal favorite), is the eeriest of the bunch. The song is, by no stretch of the phrase, an invitation to feel, pairing a few lonely guitar chords with a background ambiance that weeps ominously in the distance. Compared to the other three tracks, Wesolowski’s voice in “Crist” is the furthest back in the mix, but it works well in creating the song’s desolate and immersive atmosphere.
As a whole, The Spine and Telephone Wire is a highly cohesive group of ambient folk songs—all sad and beautiful in their own regard. JMW crafts moods like a pro, and creates potent yet subtly different atmospheres with each track. The EP is fully worth the two dollars he is requesting on his Bandcamp—so get your headphones, follow the link below, and feeeel something.