When I was first introduced to House of Wolves, I was confused. According to his facebook page, House of Wolves is a solo project of Rey Villalobos, a singer-songwriter from California. Although he's a man, I could have sworn that the vocals I was hearing when listening to House of Wolves' new album Fold In The Wind were female. They weren't, as it turns out.
Rather, like his contemporaries Sufjan Stevens and Mike Hadreas (a.k.a. Perfume Genius), Villalobos just happens to possess such an incredibly tender and fragile voice that he almost sounds feminine at times. This is by no means an insult, as it adds a formidable layer of humility and general personality to his songs, most of which are gentle indie folk musings culled from loss and personal sadness.
On "50's", the opening track from Fold In The Wind, Villalobos sets a nostalgic tone with his heartbreaking lyrics and reedy voice. On this song, which is available to download for free on the House of Wolves Bandcamp, the Perfume Genius comparison is particularly apt. While this track has a lot going for it musically, it is the impenetrably dark sound of the piano that really stands out. Like Perfume Genius did beautifully on last year's Learning, House of Wolves uses the piano and distant horns on "50's" to accentuate and complement the lyrics, leaving Villalobos' voice in the center.
The self-released album is available to download on Bandcamp for $8.