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Lula Wiles is on the verge

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine, February 6, 2019

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

Lula Wiles is on the verge. This three-piece folk-Americana band composes and performs music with skill and assurance. This vibrant listening room venue allowed them to display their talent before a full house.

Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland and Mali Obomsawin comprise Lula Wiles. From Burke's opening electric guitar riffs through an acoustic encore of simple harmony, these players demonstrated their readiness to take center stage at bigger venues. Vocal harmonies abound with Lula Wiles, but their strong suit is their musical composition.

With a new CD release ("What Will We Do') in January, Lula Wiles featured that work. Yet, new songs also crashed their way into the set. "What We Will Do" seems less a question and more a mission statement.

"Bad Guy", "Nashville, Man" and "Independence Day" from their new release struck home. Burke tries out fiddle, acoustic and electric guitar to great effect. Buckland's slight frame belies strong vocals and writing chops, and Obomsawin's bass and vocals lend a solid bottom to Lula Wiles' performance.

There's also a strain of subversion in Lula Wiles' work, and it strengthens their message without overpowering it. These players aren't taking crap from anyone, and it shows. The targets are manifold: high school mean girls ("Maryanne") the vast republic of the United States ("Great American Values"), men and addiction, to name just a few. Burke claimed on stage that the high school mean girl was not actually named Maryanne, because "that would be too obvious." It probably was about Maryanne, though. This sardonic flavoring enhances Lula Wiles's stage presence and gives the performance greater resonance.