Review: Otis Wilkins – Strangest Place

To really find where you belong, sometimes it takes leaving the comforts of home far behind.

Selected to 2017’s Project ATX6, Otis the Destroyer, aka Taylor Wilkins, left his home base and travelled with a very select group of artists from the Austin community abroad.

And it is out there in the world that he appears to have found a little bit of himself.

Under the name Otis Wilkins his new EP Strangest Place steps back from the traveling abroad and offers a candidly-Austin songwriting experience in the shape of five tracks laced with a sound that is as honest as one can hope to find.

Striding confidently between down-tempo Peter Bjorn & John melted into Americana (“Am I Growing Old?” and “Hay Jean”) and what one could imagine if Thom Yorke would have ended up sounding like had he grown up on the Texas Plains driving old pickups and coming up under the lights of a roadhouse, there is a comfortingly rustic analog quality about Wilkins that drops at the tail end of summer; almost poetically so.

Strangest Place, perhaps, speaks to the most normal feelings we have that aren’t the spoken, common emotions we’re willing to face in any place other than our own mind. On EP, it develops in five songs that are smooth in execution but gritty in depth. The smooth vocals glide into the microphone while the vintage qualities solidify the stage that develops in your ears. Holding tight to a line that builds on Wilkins’ sound, each track offers a glimpse into the persona found on the road with a longing for the stability of home and comfort. Two standout tracks embody this maybe more than the others. “Heavy Hands” emerges on a cold striking of keys before it drifts on a wave of sonic emotion and ends on captivating guitar work that dances it to a close. “Hay Jean” delivers “I’ve been here long enough to know/you’ve gotta leave if you wanna grow” to introduce the rolling snare and steely call-and-answer Americana. Adding a subtle but poignant, slightly distorted presence in the recesses of the track, Wilkins shapes something great, not just here, but on the whole.

Otis Wilkins reflects best on one must leave to grow. This awareness and maturity comes to life in his latest EP.  Taylor Wilkins grew while traveling abroad. When he returned home, as Otis Wilkins, he found something special; he found the Strangest Place.

Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.

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