Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Wholetones’ “Clutch Life” EP Review



”We’re building, building, building, building it all. Yet college took a backseat in the car, headed for a wall.” This quote from the song Clutch Life on The Wholetones’ new EP, Clutch Life, is a great description of the sacrifices that most bands and artists make to create music and pursue their dreams. The Wholetones had to make some sacrifices in order to do what they love most–make music; and music is what they do best. The Wholetones are Taylor Freydberg, Alex Dorris, and Russ Dega.

When I received their album over two months ago, I instantly fell in love with it. There was not one song that I did not like on this, their debut EP. The album flows together from song to song, giving its listener a first-class trip through the acoustics of good ol’ folk and American music.

The album begins with the title track, Clutch Life, which perfectly prepares the listener for the rest of the record. The song begins with calm guitars playing; then an epic guitar intro which still resonates in my brain. Taylor’s soft spoken southern growl of a voice produces a beautiful array of tones and, paired with the harmonies of the chorus, it really makes the song sink in. “It’s a long way down,” is one of the phrases in this piece that encapsulates the beauty and darkness the song bestows onto its listener.

The next song, Trampling Snow, flows so well from the previous song; at first, I did not even know the song had changed. The song begins with a really groovy acoustic guitar intro, segueing into the lyrics “Trampling snow, where the ginseng had grown, nose read like her eye, in that blurry photo.” The wailing vocals of Taylor and Alex really push the listener into their woodsy, folksy world where anything can happen–even the greatest, craziest, bombastic, acoustic guitar use I have heard in a while.

Wow! is the only way I can describe Courtney’s Song, the next track on the EP. It’s an ode to guitarist Alex Dorris’ longtime girlfriend Courtney, which features Alex’s amazing guitar talent. He is one of the finest guitarists to come out of South Florida, shredding like no other during this insane instrumental track.

After one of the best instrumental tracks I’ve heard in quite a while, comes the song Wailin’ a Motive. The song starts off with a very infectious harmonica intro, which leads perfectly into the song’s chorus, sung beautifully by Alex and Taylor. That infectious harmonica playing by Taylor shows up periodically throughout the song, again contributing to the image of a perfect woodsy, folk full tune.

Warming Trends is another great song to add to the oeuvre of this eclectic band. The warm harmonies and beautiful lyrics sung perfectly by Taylor and his mother, Beth Crosley, are so powerful on this track that I sincerely choked up, as I absorbed the melody and lyrics. The beautiful words, “Don’t sing Florida, Don’t Sing, the ice has misplaced all of our souls, so we won’t have to think,” are a perfect end to this warm, and powerful song.

The last track of the album, Cement Shoes, is probably the best song on the album, but also one of the low points of the album as well: My only problem with the song is that it’s way too short! The song is yet another example of the band’s excellent musicianship. The cello work and vocals done by Alex Dorris are so perfect, I wanted more. Come on, guys. Give me some more of that amazing Americana, and Folk!

After listening to “Clutch Life,” nearly fifteen times, I’ve come to the conclusion that this band isn’t concerned with recording larger-than-life songs, or even the epic jamming that they show in their live performances. I believe that in this more intimate setting, on their first EP, The Wholetones perfectly paid homage to the good old days when Folk and acoustic music was prominent in these here parts of the southern Americas. The Wholetones have successfully created an album where they ditched exaggerated song craft, for a more stripped down, bare bones album, full of infectious tunes, and amazing musicianship. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the future of this eclectic band. I am positive that their next album will be just as good, or will even top their debut effort.

Recently, The Wholetones unveiled a new website that can be seen at It’s a brand new website. Check it out!

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