Navigating the ridges of a stirring rhythm in “Bad’r Man,” it becomes clear to the listener early on in this selection from We Were Wild that we’re not dealing with the Ezra Vancil of the 2010s anymore. This singer/songwriter isn’t much for the flashiness of his mainstream rivals, and when given the opportunity he tends to travel the minimalism route more than he ever does the indulgence-laden path of his indie brethren.


Getting up and telling an audience what you think about life and everyone in it is something reserved for poets and comedians exclusively anymore, but in We Were Wild, Vancil reminds us that this was once the role of the American singer/songwriter, whose most pastoral of statements often amounts to the most personal of snapshots we have to understand humanity. “Bad’r Man” is just what its title would suggest it could be and something even a bit further reaching; it presents an artist giving us annotations on life as only he can understand it, and they’re ironically not that much different from how we would have already perceived our surroundings.  

Though a lot of We Were Wild feels like it’s being composed from the perspective of someone looking outside from someplace insular, it also features material like “Big Time” that goes in the complete opposite direction with its narrative. Here, Vancil is yearning for someone to take in this story and cherish it like a parent would a child, perhaps redeeming much of the unsubtle pain it boasts both lyrically and musically.

“Texas Hills” is more clandestine in the way it conveys the emotionality of its creator, but make no mistake about it – his passions are never stifled by any of the instrumental or poetic elements he’s utilizing to make this music palatable to us. Ezra Vancil is a very intelligent composer, having spent time cultivating his aesthetics from the inside out and learning the craft the right way, and if any critics were ever questioning his chops and long-term viability as a singer/songwriter, I think they’ll be left with a hard-sell argument with the arrival of this fantastically immersive EP. 

As mighty as his melodies in “Permission” and as austere a player as the very bones of “Wish I Had an Angel” would prove him to be, Ezra Vancil is playing the sort of pop music that American listeners have been specifically jonesing for in 2023. We Were Wild is most definitely among the stronger of his releases offered in the past couple of years, and although it’s not the longest record you’re going to get into this spring, my money says it’s going to be among the most memorable due to the uncompromising passion this player imparts in all seven of its tracks.

Vancil is a one-of-a-kind singer/songwriter who deserves more attention from the establishment, and he could well score a lot of praise across the board for what he’s done in We Were Wild. There’s still more to discover about this guy, but we’re getting a solid dose here. 

Garth Thomas