The Wheel Releases New Single 'Coyote Mask'
Portland, Oregon-based Avram Brown, aka The Wheel, is well on his way
toward building a reputation as one of modern music’s most thoughtful
and melodic songwriters. His single “Coyote Mask” from The Wheel’s
self-titled debut is a languid and deeply affecting track running almost
four minutes and brimming with the singer/songwriter influences
informing much of Brown’s art.
His lyrical talents are obvious and abundant. “Coyote Mask” is, in
turns, poetic and straightforward. It will resist direct interpretation
at some points while inviting it at others. Brown’s skills for turning a
phrase are evident, however, and several of the rhymes, such as
wretch/sketch, are unexpected yet well-chosen.
The Wheel’s vocals foster a feeling of intimacy. Brown’s voice is at
close quarters with the listeners throughout the entirety of the track.
It likewise complements the song’s musical arrangement, always
restrained if not outright meditative, and the musical and vocal
components work in lockstep sympathy with one another from the beginning
through the song’s conclusion.
The musical bedrock of the song is Brown’s acoustic guitar. It isn’t
difficult to imagine that the genesis of the tune lies here, Brown’s
voice working with the aforementioned guitar playing, and The Wheel does
an outstanding job developing the performance along those lines. He
further fleshes the song out, however, with a handful of superb
decisions. The drumming imbues “Coyote Mask” with impetus while the
melodic strengths of effects-laden piano enhance his performance with a
light, near gossamer-like, touch.
Pedal steel guitar enhances the folk/country music influences prevalent
throughout the song. It’s far from omnipresent, but a welcome addition,
nonetheless. The song’s bridge is a slight escalation, you can hear the
intensity rising in a low-key way, but Brown remains careful throughout
the cut to never push too hard. This is a carefully crafted track that,
without fail, always sounds natural.
You can’t help but be a little mesmerized by the production. It’s
another aspect of the single that fosters a welcome degree of intimacy
with the listener without ever sounding too precious or coy. Brown’s
keen ear surrounds each attribute of “Coyote Mask” with sonic warmth
that, coupled with the song’s aforementioned merits, invites listeners
to return to the performance multiple times. It isn’t easy to exhaust
the song’s appeal.
The chorus will be a high point for many. It’s arguably the song at its
most direct and it’s telling to hear the smattering of grief present
throughout the cut. Brown’s voice is at its finest here and he fully
realizes the potential of the moment. This is The Wheel’s debut, yes,
but you can’t tell listening to a song such as this. There’s no
tentativeness. He doesn’t place a foot wrong and his confidence in both
the song and his performance is audible from the outset.
These elements and the song’s undefinable intangibles help make The
Wheel’s “Coyote Mask” one of 2023’s most compelling singles.