Coming off of the success of their 2019 breakthrough record, Illusions, folk rockers The Way Down Wanderers have returned with their sophomore effort entitled More Like Tomorrow. This five-member band from Peoria, Illinois have made an album worthy of the heart that they affectionately used to cover this collection of ten songs brimming with purpose and professional poise. The band is unique in that they have two lead songwriters/vocalists in Collin Krause and Austin Krause-Thompson, and yet their combination of tackling core themes like addiction, relationships, and living life to the fullest never seems forced or appear to be a struggle between the two core songwriters. More Like Tomorrow is a nice encapsulation of this period of time in our lives where we search for our “true north” and let go of the outside noise that distracts us from living our best lives.
The album opens with the harmonious “Codeine Rest & Loneliness,” and it’s evident early on that the two vocalists are in tune with their strengths as both singers and musicians with their collective approach to songwriting. My personal favorite comes in the form of ”The Wire,” a single that comes shimmering out of the speakers with a Bluegrass approach, yet it hums along with purpose in the style of other folk rock bands like The Decemberists, Dustbowl Revival, and The Lumineers. Other early songs like “Forever” and “Hard Times,” in particular, tackle the thematic elements of living through dark days while still having the optimism of better days coming on the horizon.
The back half of the album doesn’t lose much of the early half’s momentum, especially with most songs clocking in just under three minutes. This brevity usually isn’t synonymous with this genre, yet The Way Down Wanderers appear to have made a conscious effort to pack all of their rich lyrical imagery and improved musicianship into a lush musical package. Late standouts like “Two Parts One Heart,” and the upbeat closer of “Everything’s Made Out of Sand,” show off the band’s Bluegrass background, yet their approach to songwriting continues to show glimpses of their next steps forward.
Even though Bluegrass is not one of my favorite genres to write about, The Way Down Wanderers created a record that I found some joy in, and I understood the direction they were going for on More Like Tomorrow. Country, indie folk, and especially Bluegrass fans with an ear for pop music, will surely enjoy this album that beats along in sync to the band’s good intentions.