Lila Wiles – What Will We Do (Smithsonian Folkways 2019)
What will we do? For Lula Wiles, the trio made up of Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin, the question is central to the creation of their music – and it’s the title of their new album.
“We wanted to make an album that reflected, in a current way, what we are all staying up late thinking about and talking about over drinks at the dinner table,” says Obomsawin. “What is everyone worried about, confiding in their friends about, losing sleep about?” On What Will We Do, the band’s sophomore album, the trio’s voices burn, twist together, mingle, and rise like smoke signaling changes to come. But anchoring that delicate touch is a mastery of folk music—and a willingness to subvert its hallowed conventions.
Long before they were in a band together, the members of Lula Wiles were singing folk songs and trading fiddle tunes at camp in Maine. “All of us were lucky to have access to the folk music community at a young age,” Burke says. “The music traditions that we’re drawing on are social, community-building traditions.” On those warm summer nights, playing music was just plain fun, but the members of Lula Wiles carry those early lessons of community and the meaning of shared art with them to this day, as they seek to create music that questions cultural virtues, soothes aching wounds, and envisions a better world.
NMR (photo: press Lile Wiles)