Will Rainier’s status as a fixture in the indie music singer/songwriter community isn’t a stroke of luck. It’s a result, first and foremost, of an unquestionable work ethic that’s propelled his prolific output. He has nine albums to his credit with his wife Jen Garrett under the moniker Stuporhero, one solo album, and another release with his band Will Rainier & The Pines. He has kept high standards throughout those multiple releases, something not every artist manages, and maintains a common denominator of intelligent and reflective songwriting. His new release is a second solo album, ten songs in all, entitled Wobble in the Moon that continues the pattern of his musical journey so far.
It isn’t often that country music overtones and synths collide with memorable results. “The Patio”, however, is such an instance where two instruments seemingly at odds come together in seamless accord. There is an assortment of emotions swirling through this song, equal parts regret, kinship, humor, and sarcasm, that helps make it a near-perfect harbinger of everything that follows. “Are You Waving Goodbye?”, however, is solidly country. Rainier dismisses the synth color of the preceding song in favor of focusing the instrumental touches on Raymond Richards’ pedal steel playing. His duet with his wife Jen Garrett convinces you the two should continue singing together as much as possible.
“Dark Secret Heart” ventures into emotional upheaval. The air of mystery surrounding the song nonetheless hints at aching sub currents the lyrics only flesh out so far. Richards returns on pedal steel for this track, but it’s closer to a singer/songwriter vibe than outright country. Rainier’s hypnotic guitar lines double down on the song’s foreboding mood and Garrett contributes audacious cello to the song as well. The lyrics reach their zenith with the title song. There are some clunky lines present in the track, but you can’t help but applaud Rainer’s attempt to reach higher peaks and much of the imagery works with spectacular results. It feels like the album’s centerpiece number without ever overshadowing the other tracks.
The sensitive intimacy of “Endless” initially builds around Rainier’s voice and acoustic guitar. Garrett adds important secondary vocals as well. It is a fascinating tune as it evolves from a stylish folk song into a near-orchestral piece by its conclusion and the tasteful experimentation never fails. He achieves something uniquely his own with this cut. “Mushroom Gnome & Golden Boy” is another poetic moment on the album that, nevertheless, never sinks with the weight of pretentiousness. There is a lot to unpack with this song, primarily lyrically, and it demands multiple listens.
Much of the album can’t be appreciated with a single pass. Will Rainier has written and recorded a fully realized song cycle that touches many bases without ever settling for long in one particular direction. He’s recruited a first-class cadre of collaborators to bring his ambitions to life and they support Wobble in the Moon’s songs with unimpeachable skill. It’s considered, thoughtful, and intelligent from the first song to the last.