Little Island Lake laps on autumn’s chilly shore with ‘Jawbones’

The first thing you hear on Little Island Lake‘s full-length debut “Jawbones” is a banjo, which is quite possibly one of the very best first impressions a band can make.

From there, the Ypsilanti, Mich., quintet brings a soft variety of folk harmonies that seep into your head like a light autumn rain. Lead vocalist Bobby Voorheis has a lovely way of ushering us into cold weather territory, singing over the twinkling sounds of glockenspiel on “September Sons” and declaring, “Winter, I hate your frozen heart,” alongside handclaps for the title track.

Each song is a patch of  “Jawbones'” cozy quilt, one stitched onto the next. It hangs perfectly among the gallery of Ypsi folk music tradition, held up firmly by layers of gentle guitar strings.

Multi-instrumentalist Mary Fraser gets some turns at the mic, showcasing her yodel-tease chops on “Traverse.”

Little Island Lake intersperses acoustic with electric with stunning success. “Great White God” is (if I may say so) heavenly. Percussion is the secret ingredient at times, with tambourine and drums charging “The City,” but every instrument used on the album seems to have its chance to shine. Even the times I’m inclined to complain “NOT ENOUGH BANJO,” it’s easy to forgive as the guitars come through to sedate me.


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