Kyle Field can make his voice sound like a hound dog, and for that alone, he should be lauded. The man behind Little Wings has assumed a legendary status, even among his eclectic country-leaning Woodsist peers, for his determination to remain secluded. After all, he’s toured and performed with the Microphones, M. Ward, Devendra Banhart, Grandaddy, and Calvin Johnson and released 10 of his own records, most on Northwest weirdo-pride label K Records. Field’s now label-mate Alex Bleeker (of Real Estate and Alex Bleeker And The Freaks) calls him a “living legend” in the brief liner notes that accompany new single “Where” — high praise from a man who has carved out his own niche in the Brooklyn scene of the early 2000s.
Back to the song, though. “Where” is the second track Field has released from his forthcoming record Explains. Previously he shared “By Now,” a glummer, corner-of-the-mouth sardonic folk song. Don’t let the simple, one- or two-word answers throw you off the trail, though; “Where” is a sinuous, winding bit of quiet songwriting. Sliding from a Callahan baritone into falsetto with easy grace, Field is one of those singers who relishes the transitional vocal moment, the weird little warps when he leaps to a higher note, the hiccup of flipping into head voice. He freestyles over ’70s-flicked orchestral flourishes, turning over tiny moments like lotion leaking in a purse, dripping found poetry with apparent disregard. Bleeker imagines him as a conduit for the folk unconscious, and that might’ve struck me as hyperbolic if I’d read it before hearing the song. But his Lebowski-like haphazard zen folk is inexplicably moving; a sawed-off bit of the American Dream that never made the papers. Listen below.