For my money, there’s not been a better chamber folk record than the Wilderness of Manitoba’s 2009 debut, Hymns of Love and Spirits. While their sound evolved and expanded on subsequent albums, founding member Will Whitwham’s voice always retained the whispery intimacy first displayed on that debut.
Whitwham’s all that’s left from the iteration of the Wilderness of Manitoba that made Hymns of Love and Spirits, and his new single, “Brigden Fair” harkens back to the band’s origins, stripping away excesses and extravagances to reveal the soul of his songwriting. He says it’s meant to feel as if “…Donovan wrote the lyrics but it was sung and recorded by Simon and Garfunkel.” It does, echoing that dynamic duo’s version of “Scarborough Fair” in tone, title, and tempo.
“Brigden Fair” finds the Wilderness of Manitoba in familiar musical surroundings. Like the amusement ride Whitwham reminisces about in the song’s lyrics, the Wilderness of Manitoba are coming full circle, their new hymns of love and spirits sounding rejuvenated and renewed.