Set the Woods on Fire – Art in Manila

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Set The Woods on Fire is a cohesive, intelligent and impressive debut record from the Omaha-based Art In Manila. Formed from the ashes of Azure Ray, Orenda Fink assembled a sextet of musicians equipped to forge through genre defying music. From introspective indie rock to atmospheric trysts with post-rock, Set the Woods on Fire is a smartly paced, well-written and deftly recorded album from start to finish. Leaving behind some of her earlier minimalist explorations, Orenda Fink here picks up a fuller, more accessible sound reminiscent of Rilo Kiley. Her lyrics are sometimes dreamy, sometimes dark and brooding. The end of the album tapers off into hypnotizing vocals in “Precious Pearl” and “The Game”. I am a sucker for a woman vocalist who sings in a pained, knowing voice, and like most straight males, hope her delivery is aimed at beckoning me into her sad, warm world. All said, her voice might be the hook that really drew me into this record. Art in Manila don’t break any new musical territory, and end up sounding a little clean for me, but it’s a wonderful first effort, and serves as a more than adequate jumping off point for the band’s future development.