Formed by Harrisonburg locals, Kyle Grim and Ben Ryan create the rich folk sounds of Dogwood Tales. Having just released their first five track self-titled EP, in addition to touring soon, they are well on their way to making their mark in folk-goodness territory.
In a general sense, Dogwood Tales reminds me of The Decembrists with their similar story-telling lyrics and folk nature. However, Dogwood Tales differentiates themselves from another folk band such as the Decembrists through their smooth vocal and guitar harmonization. With the exception of the fifth song on the album, Kyle Grim is the lead vocalist with Ben Ryan backing him up with ease. Kyle and Ben do a great job of evoking emotion through their melancholy guitar harmonization and riffs, soft drum accompaniment, and smooth harmonica. As a result, throughout the whole album I found myself wanting to look out of the window on a rainy day with a somber mood in my heart or go for a midnight drive with the windows slightly rolled down as the city lights passed me by.
There are five beautifully mastered songs on Dogwood Tales, each lyrically and musically depicting stories unfolding across the entire EP. What I really liked about this album were the lyrics and how they just worked. Each song tells a story, riddled with themes of childhood nostalgia, family, the passage of time, and the nature of the world in general. I won’t go through all of the songs on the album, but my favorite song is “Yellow”. With Ben Ryan leading the vocals in the beginning of the song, which is a nice change of pace to close out the EP, (I love Kyle Grim’s vocals don’t get me wrong but you can also never have enough of Ben Ryan’s folky voice digging into your ears either) then changing back to Kyle leading, a nice ebb and flow occurs. "Yellow" also deepens the rawness of emotion behind the lyrics and vocals. Toward the end of the song Kyle and Ben utter the lyrics, “Please, just wait for me” repeatedly, ending the song and EP. Something about those lyrics, those words, really make me emotional and as a whole make me appreciate the musical and lyrical talent that is Dogwood Tales.
I genuinely loved listening to Dogwood Tale’s debut release and can only see them going up from here. Give it a listen, you’ll thank me later.