Carley Wolf
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Carley Wolf

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
Band Americana Folk

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"Carley Wolf: A musical jewel in wolf’s clothing"

When singer-songwriter Carley Wolf says she is “in tune with nature,” that’s putting things rather mildly. Raised in the country outside of Austin among a large family — including a music and animal–loving dad and pet wolves — it’s more natural to describe her as being madly in tune with nature and music. Possessed with a wild passion and a wandering gypsy soul, she’s about to break loose with her debut album, Set Sail.

Music is in Wolf’s blood. She started taking piano lessons at the age of seven, but she was already jamming with her dad long before then. Wolf plays piano, guitar, mandolin, upright bass, banjo, and anything else she can think of — figuring the more she learns on one instrument, the more she’ll learn about others. “I can’t help it!” she bursts, as one might before confessing to an addiction. “I can’t rest if I don’t play instruments.”

Wolf began writing music at the age of 12, around the same time she started her first all-girl band, the Clabber Girls. She went on to play in band after band and, by the time she graduated from high school, released her first EP thanks to a cousin who gave her studio time as a graduation gift.

While studying audio engineering at Texas State, Wolf completed a documentary thesis about her family’s musical history called Music Through the Bloodline. On her journey through Mexico, she discovered that her great-grandmother began playing harp at age three, composed her own songs, and eventually opened a dance school in her town.

It was while she was in college that Wolf also began writing the songs for Set Sail. She recorded the songs last year at the Troubadour in Lockhart, Texas with Steve Collins and John Konja, and the result is an impressive body of work for a “newcomer.” Using genres such as folk, rock, and bluegrass, Wolf sings with the chops of an old gypsy soul.

“My favourite song on the album is ‘Set Sail,’” she says. “It’s about the journey through life and about trusting that the universe will take care of you, no matter what happens. I wrote it when I was graduating from college and going through a lot of changes.”

Wolf counts some of her musical influence as Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, and Ella Fitzgerald — whom Wolf was first introduced to while researching jazz artists before putting out her first record of old blues songs. She also finds inspiration by attending live music performances near Austin, jamming in different groups, and supporting some of her local friends — such as up-and-coming jazz chanteuse, Kat Edmonson.

When asked how her music speaks to the spirit of these times, Wolf explains, “I’m not a political writer. I play music and hope to share my joy of playing music with others. I invite people to take a journey into a song, and if it helps people feel good and escape from the everyday worries and things going on in the world, then I know my music has gotten through to them.” - Venus Magazine; Marisa Iacobucci


"Carley Wolf Sets her Sail"

"...I predict Carley will be as big as Norah Jones go see what you think - Austin.com


"Carley Wolf "Sets Sail" at the Cactus Cafe"

A couple of weeks ago I got a text message from a young lady I had the pleasure to meet last year at a Grammy party held in the Gibson Show Room @ Penn Field, S. Austin. The memo simply read, "Hey buddy! Come out tomorrow night for my CD release party at the Cactus Cafe." I thought it was a very cool and casual way of getting the message out to fellow music lovers and artists listed in her phone log. I soon found myself terribly interested in discovering what singer/songwriter Carley Wolf had accomplished in the last year or so from the last time I visited her myspace and checked out a few of her YouTube clips.

Being a songwriter in this town, I myself have come to know and respect the reputation of a songwriter’s mysteriousness: and it usually comes with hiding under a rock from all known humanity for quite sometime. (Wow, you look like you could use some sunlight. Let’s go get some ice cream.) And then, BAM! We seemingly come out of nowhere, (ice cream waffle cone in hand) with a bigger perspective on life, a college-ruled spiral filled with original lyrics which turn into remarkable, original songs, and if we are blessed, a band ready to play the hell out of them!

So be as it may, I knew of Carley Wolf, a young woman from Texas State University (go Bobcats! rarr) with a memorable appearance and style, but I sure didn’t know Carley Wolf, let alone her musical endeavors. So when I received the cute little text-vite, I had little or no idea what I was in for.

I RSVP’d a prompt “See you there,” to the t-vite. I arrived solo the following night at the tiny venue which was tucked away in the labyrinth of UT. The university is, after all, a small city itself. As I approached the door, there was a sign sitting on a table that said ‘Carley Wolf CD Release Party, $5’(Money makes the world go ‘round.) As I was pulling out my wallet I took notice to the precisely placed records titled "Set Sail", up for grabs that Ms Wolf had promised her enduring fans.

When I walked into the atmosphere, there was only standing-room left, the band had just finished setting up and the musicians were ready to commence. From left to right, a fine percussionist who was sitting in with Wolf’s band that evening, Josh Halpern, (who happens to be the rhythm machine in my group as well), then a kit player toward the back who dually sings and writes as well, Jessie Torissi. Next were musicians whom I have yet to meet: A fiddle player, cellist, and stand up bassist added impressive ingredients into the mix.

There was an excitable drone coming from the audience.. showing signs that they were gearin' up for some entertainment. After a short and relaxed introduction, Wolf gave the signal and suddenly, deep and unusual melodies were filling the room. The opening song instantly brought me to a time and place where gypsies danced around moonlit bonfires on European seasides. The band was well-rehearsed. Everyone on stage had a mischievous smile across their face that matched the rich, up-beat piece of music they were creating. Wolf’s voice is charming and pure, and somewhat childlike, telling tales of love, emotion, and acceptance from a twenty-something’s point of view. She even swapped strings with her stand up bass player and did an entire song slapping away. That was an impressive spectacle, and the audience was delighted.

My overall thoughts were that if Wolf’s artistic and imaginative expressions continue down this path, who knows where her vessel may 'set sail' in the future? Wherever she goes, Carley Wolf will be floating atop a sea of success.

Rock on, Carley.

Official Website: http://www.carleywolf.com/

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/carleywolf

Over and Out. - who let the carney out? by Meggan Carney


"River Road House Concerts"

Carley is unlike anyone I have ever heard. Both innocence and experience resonate from this childlike yet bold voice which will whisper it’s way into your heart. There is something old soul-like about Carley. She has an old fashioned quality and an intensity in her voice and gaze which is undeniable. When she sings everyone and everything around her seems to quiet down and pay attention. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Carley is in tune with nature, more specifically wolves. No joke- she was raised with them. - JoLynn Braswell


"Ski Jam"

Carley Wolf, who we met last year and profiled in Relix’s On the Verge section, lights up the stage in the Bear Creek Bar with her clean picking and fun lyrical trips. I love that fact that so many singers from southern Texas can sing in Spanish so comfortably. - Relix Magazine


"On the Verge"

Weaving together gypsy, folk, rock, bluegrass, and just a little hickabilly, Wolf casts fleeting glances at love, life, and the immutable. - Relix Magazine


"Carley Wolf - “Set Sail”"

Carley Wolf Set Sail -www.rambles.net/wolf_set09.html

One phrase comes to mind when one hears Set Sail -- "amiably eccentric" -- and another when one seeks to describe Carley Wolf's persona -- "hippie chick." I mean them both in the most generous possible way.

Judging from her photos, Wolf cannot have been born when the first generation of hippies roamed the Earth. Still, she must have something of the experience in her genes. A native Texan, she writes that she was "raised in the country with a loving musical family and a pack of wolves." Given her last name -- if that is indeed her birth name -- that can be read other than literally. Still, one of her videos shows her cavorting with ... well, they look rather like wolves, albeit with the friendly domestic character of dogs.

In any event, what matters for our purposes is that Set Sail is well above the usual singer-songwriter fare. Wolf has an impressively inventive musical imagination, in which she integrates multiple genres (jazz, gypsy rhythms, folk, pop) into a distinctively personal style. Her voice -- both literal and metaphorical -- is rich, supple and hard to resist whether it is waxing philosophical, gloomy, erotic or playful. Here and there, the songs turn lyrically and emotionally complex, but they are always accessible, resounding with a range of influences which ordinarily one doesn't expect to emanate from a single disc. I don't recall, for example, hearing anybody else who seems -- on occasion anyway -- like both Rickie Lee Jones and the Incredible String Band.

Multi-instrumentalist Wolf gets able backing from a four-piece band. One member is the ubiquitous fiddler Katy Rose Cox, and there's cello player David "Deemo" Moss. Jonathan Konya and Steve Collins handle mostly percussive instruments. Together, they create a shimmering, atmospheric sound while leaving the singing very much up front. I'm not sure you could call this "folk-rock" exactly. Perhaps the title song comes closest, and "Rocking Chair" is at least vaguely reminiscent of something traditional, maybe the Carter Family in an alternate reality. But whatever else it might be, Set Sail is among the most beautiful and intelligent -- and, in its own highly idiosyncratic fashion, rooted -- acoustic-pop records I've heard in the last year.
- By Jerome Clark Rambles.Net


"Texas Platters - Girlie Action"


By Margaret Moser - Austin Chronicle 11-20-09

Carley Wolf on her new Set Sail might raise hopes for a few yo-ho-ho's, but there's no bottle of rum here. Wolf's self-styled gypsy folk with a pop spin – cultivated right here in Central Texas since birth – is strong and promising. There's nothing with serious radio punch, but her "Run Into the Sun" has been dance-mixed as a bonus track and adds gypsy violin over a pulse beat effectively.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/review
- Austin Chronicle


"Carley Wolf ******* (seven stars)"

Carley Wolf - Set Sail - http://blurt-online.com/reviews/view/1651/
******* (seven stars)
By Fred Mills - Blurt-Online 11/18/09
Americana aficionados may find it faintly ludicrous, if not aggravating, that Norah Jones announces she's ditching MOR pop for roots music and every journalist on the planet wants to lick her piano pedals, but across the land deserving unknowns with far more authenticity and pizzazz than Jones continue to toil as, well, unknowns. I mention this only because (a) Jones is in the news right now; (b) and Austin songstress Carley Wolf has been compared to Jones in past reviews. Not necessarily without cause; at times she shares that same vulnerable, ingénue quality that's guaranteed to melt hearts. And her style touches upon pop, folk, country, jazz and even classical at times - a winning hybrid, just like Jones.

Still, one could do far worse than to take Wolf on her own terms. She terms her music "gypsy folk rock," and the jaunty, strummy opening track is called "Gypsy Soul Blues," so if label we must, those ain't too far off. In fact, "gypsy" may be the operative term here, as Wolf demonstrates her wanderlust across the course of these ten tracks. Abetted by players on loan from the Belleville Outfit, Shotgun Party and The Blue Hit, Wolf shines on such highlights as the gently lilting "Cold Dead Fingers," a countryish ballad reminiscent of some of Alejandro Escovedo's strings-laden compositions; the brushed-percussion, soul-jazz infused title track; and the European-flavored "Whole Hearted Lover," and uptempo blend of swing, blues and café culture. Wolf's a gifted multiinstrumentalist, by the way, playing at various points guitar, upright bass, mandolin, banjo, pump organ and keyboards.

Throughout, her expressive voice, terminally sexy but with an understated quality that gets under your skin through a slow process of seduction, remains the focus (credit to collaborators and coproducers Steve Collins and Jonathan Konya for recognizing that aural asset). Like her hero Tom Waits (she'll confirm that statement), it's a memorable voice that takes on its own singular identity, and as she charts her life, her loves and maybe even a few losses, too, you'll want to follow her path.

A musical nomad by any estimation, Wolf - like the cover rendering by artist Jet Whitt - proves to be a tempting mystery worth unraveling. Surprises await.

Standout Tracks: "Whole Hearted Lover," "Run Into the Sun," "Cold Dead Fingers" FRED MILLS

Carley Wolf is currently touring with her band The Howls. Dates at her MySpace page: www.myspace.com/carleywolf.

- Blurt Online


"A Real Treat"

Collected Sounds - www.blog.collectedsounds.com/
Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell - 11/17/09
Carley Wolf makes her debut with a confident, eclectic set that’s likely to attract many fans.

Opener Gypsy Soul Blues is raucous and fun, Wolf’s vocals set against a cute backing.

Run into the Sun has a sweet melody and a vocal that rapidly makes itself known.

Funeral Pyre is dark and dramatic in a Marissa Nadler way. It’s hushed rather than shouted, but the tension’s there and the sadness palpable.

Whole Hearted Lover is upbeat and lovely and shows off Wolf’s skills at their best.

Her debut’s a real treat.

- Collected Sounds


Discography

Hand Stitched 2007 ep
Circuit Tree 2008 ep
Set Sail 2009

Photos

Bio

Carley Wolf's The Howl is a 3 piece band hailing from Austin, TX. They
are relatively young as a group, having formed in early 2009, but as
individual performers they are much more experienced. Carley, a multi-
instrumentalist, fronts the band on vocals, mandolin, guitar, and upright
bass. She has been performing as a band leader since the age of 13, playing
in dance halls, listening rooms and at festivals across the United States and
Europe. Members of the group have also toured internationally with other
noted bands, including The Crooked Jades, The Belleville Outfit, and Bright
Eyes. The band presents a sound distinctly flavored by American roots
music, with energetic live performances that have repeatedly won over both
dancing and listening audiences of all ages.

Keen listeners have drawn comparisons between Carley’s sound and
songwriting to that of Norah Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams,
Cat Power, and Feist. She also cites Tom Waits as her one of her biggest
influences and personal heroes. With these luminaries as her musical
guideposts, she weaves a shimmering, idiosyncratic sound that is honest,
accessible, and full of spirit.

The Howl has most recently been touring the United
States and Europe in support of their debut release, Set Sail. The group instrumentation
is a mix of electric and acoustic, featuring upright bass, fiddle, guitars,
piano, mandolin, and drums. They will be touring through this year with
plans to record a sophomore release in late 2010.

"I believe I was put here to share music with people." Carley Wolf says this with great confidence, not just because "it’s what comes most naturally and brings the most joy" in her life (and, we might add, in the lives of those around her). True, Carley started singing about the time she started talking, began piano lessons at age 7 and guitar at age 8, started her own band, "The Clabber Girls," at age 12 (with original songs, no less) and another band during her high school years in Houston. True, she is a sound recording engineer who also studied classical guitar with Mark Cruz, jazz on upright bass with Dr. James Polk, and mandolin with no less than David Grisman – and has traveled through Europe and much of the USA playing music.

But Carley had an itch to learn more about her musical heritage, so she hopped on a bus and traveled across Mexico to interview close and distant family members for a documentary film, "Music Through the Bloodline." What she found was that "the love of sharing music, singing, composing, performing, and playing instruments goes generations back as far as I could find – it is in my family’s blood, and has been passed to me with love."

And it is that love – as much as the music itself – that propels Carley into the world to sing and play and write and, yes, record her own as well as other people’s music, too. Cellist Najeeb Sabour says that, "Carley is an extraordinary pioneer of today’s music.... Songs of life, spirit, travels, pressing issues and pure joy are just some of the elements Ms. Wolf expresses through her unique lyrics and original songwriting." Drummer Jon Konya (from the Belleville Outfit) says of Carley, "She is a performer of the highest caliber, with the voice of an angel on high. Her songs touch to the depths of human emotion, and I would marry her over the phone without ever having met her."

Carley’s debut CD, "Set Sail," was recorded at Steve Collins’ Troubadour Studio in Lockhart and features Carley on vocals, guitars, double bass, mandolin, keyboards, banjo and pump organ. Konya and Collins (Deadman) add a variety of sounds; Daniel "Deemo" Moss (The Blue Hit) plays cello and Katy Rose Cox (Shotgun Party) violin. The result is an eclectic mix of ten songs that showcase the range of Carley’s songwriting and performing talent. Steve comments, "Carley Wolf is a rare talent with a gift for creating intrigue and a natural story teller. Her music is spell-binding both in the studio and on the stage."

Carley’s music is very Kerrville, very backyard Austin (and environs) – as gentle as Winter (the friendliest wolf you ever petted), as pure as snow, as honest as Abe himself. This tiny woman with the little girl talking voice and womanly singing voice is always surprising – one day in native dress, the next in high fashion formals – and always disarming, bringing peace and joy wherever she goes.

"Set Sail" opens with a song about Carley’s own "Gypsy Soul Blues" – this is a woman whose chief frustration is not getting her songs and her spirit out to a broader audience, yet! "To Bee" may sound lighthearted, but Carley has spent countless hours working with beehives to save the vital critters so they can keep pollinating our flowers and food. Every song tells a story – but the best way to experience Carley’s music is up close and in person. She WILL sing in your backyard – and mend your fences while she’s changing strings, or