Genre-melding quintet The Way Down Wanderers have announced the February 22nd release of their independent sophomore album illusions. Hailing from Peoria, IL, the group craft stories inspired by the heartland with a unique blend of sounds stemming from their varied musical backgrounds. Produced by Grammy winner David Schiffman (HAIM, Johnny Cash, Rage Against The Machine), this is not your average roots/rock record. Though it is built on a foundation of Americana and bluegrass, illusions features The Way Down Wanderers’ signature multi-part harmonies injected with unexpected elements of pop, reggae, classical and jazz.
The Way Down Wanderers began when former rock drummer Austin Krause-Thompson met classically trained folk instrumentalist/vocalist Collin Krause at the ages of 19 and 15 respectively (the two recently became brothers-in-law). The two lead singers/songwriters were later joined by jazz percussionist John Merikoski, classical bassist John Williams and banjo player Travis Kowalsky. The band’s self-titled 2016 debut captured the attention of critics and peers alike with their boundary-blurring style and electrifying live performances.
While their sound is a melting-pot of genres, at the core The Way Down Wanderers are storytellers. The songs on illusions observes the cycle of life – love, loss and evolution – while looking to the future with hope. From the dreamy title track reminiscing on the simplicity of youth, to the sense of mourning in “Old Ford” to the excitement of new love in “Patient Pretender”, the album bridges a raw enthusiasm for life with the sobering reality of how quickly time passes. Combining Collin’s classic crooning over soaring instrumentals, Austin’s spoken-word breakdowns with island-style beats and the group’s clear knack for harmonies, the young band delivers an album that is equally as powerful and moving as it is frenzied and uplifting.
The Way Down Wanderers’ songs are inspiring, but their live shows take things to new heights. The band’s fast-paced performances, complete with foot-stomping sing-alongs, in-audience encores and drummer Merikoski’s infamous spoon solos are absolutely intoxicating. Their almost nonstop touring over the last few years has awarded them an enthusiastic grassroots following and created a communal environment that feels like hanging out with long-time friends. View a complete list of tour dates HERE.
Much like the community they strive to create, The Way Down Wanderers use music to encourage us to stay open to the people and things around us. illusions illustrates the idea that, for better or worse, this life is our only one so we should make it count.