August 7, 2017
In ‘The Closest Thing to Home’ Ira Wolf Explores Touring, Travel, and Belonging
Through her sincere songwriting and haunting vocals, folk singer/songwriter Ira Wolf has connected with audiences around the world. Wolf writes nonstop, even in the midst of a continuous touring schedule. Between stops at music festivals and songwriters competitions throughout the country this year, she took a short break to record, leading to the upcoming release of her third studio album, The Closest Thing to Home, which will be released on September 9th.
Wolf penned most of the songs for the album while on a GoWesty-sponsored tour of the U.S. last summer. When she wasn’t onstage, she was motoring around the country in a 1988 VW Vanagon. The life of a wandering musical poet may sound romantic, but the truth lies somewhere between adrenaline-fueled exhilaration and endless stretches of boredom and loneliness. Wolf is no stranger to touring, having graced international stages from New Zealand and Southeast Asia to Scandinavia and the UK.
Solitude and heartache are common threads throughout Wolf’s work. Honest and unflinching as ever, The Closest Thing to Home dives headfirst into these themes in its country- and bluegrass-heavy tracks.
“The songwriting [on the album] focuses on travel, homesickness, living out of a van, and the ups and downs of tour life,” Wolf says.
In the ballad “Can I Stay,” Wolf longs for familiarity and the comfort of companionship. “You remind me of someone I know,” she sings. “Can I stay with you awhile?” In the turbulent and stirring “Skin and Script,” she explores the difficulty of navigating relationships in the midst of life on the road.
A beautiful cynicism runs deep through Wolf’s lyrical poetry. In “Some Days,” Wolf writes that “some days are good; some years are not.” A belief in karma, bourbon, and brutal honesty keep her focused and help her cope through the roller coaster of hopes, small joys, and hard disappointments.
Wolf is constantly on the move and ever saying goodbye. “‘Cuz that road pulls on me,” she explains in the mournful “Leaving Soon.” Despite the trials of touring, it keeps her “flying free” and spurs her to grow up.
The album’s name comes from the ode to “Ruby,” the beloved Volkswagen that “was made for going west” and became Wolf’s teacher and home-away-from-home as she set off on tour.
Kevin Harper, Nashville Warner Bros Studio engineer and Wolf’s good friend, helped to produce the album. Appearing with her are a long lineup of notable musicians, including John Mailander (fiddle, mandolin, octave mandolin), Emily Nelson (cello), Stephanie Jenkins (banjo), Hadley Kennary (background vocals), and Jess Perkins (pedal steel).