Band Name: Apricot Blush
Members: Jackson Wise (vocals, guitar, multiple other instruments) and a shifting collective that often includes Jonah Terry (bass, banjo), Sydnee Albertson (singing saw), Brandon Gallagher (drums), Dan Fetterolf (violin), and Wesley Heaton and Marissa Splendore (trumpets)
What they sound like: Emotional but immaculately played folk-pop with near-orchestral arrangements; think The Decemberists or Microphones’ Phil Elvrum
Who They Like: Hugger Mugger, Wallpaper
Apricot Blush wasn’t actually a band until after their first self-titled album. Jackson Wise essentially wrote and recorded all 10 songs himself. The follow-up, “Where Blew A Flower, May A Flower No More,” expands the lineup to 10 players, and it’s in every sense a step forward for Wise.
The music is more cinematic and dynamic, moving from spare, acoustic-guitar interludes to haunting full-ensemble moments that weave acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies around one another, with Albertson’s haunting, fluttering singing saw hovering over the songs like a ghost.
This new, bigger version of Apricot Blush came from the unexpected strong response Wise got to his first collection of songs, which then created a need to play them live.
“The response blew out what I expected it to be,” Wise says. “I expected like 10 of my friends to listen to it and say, ‘Good job, buddy.’ But that wasn’t the case, which was great. But I still didn’t feel comfortable playing live; I didn’t know how I could do that. I recorded it largely by myself, so I didn’t know how we could transpose it, but Jonah [Terry] inspired me to start doing that. And now I love it. I love the theatrical aspect that we can provide live.”
Both of Wise’s albums as Apricot Blush have revolved around concepts that might seem odd for a 21-year-old to be concerning himself with. The first album was a painful attempt by Wise to deal with recovery from abuse and addiction. The new album blends two themes: The Inuit legend of Sedna, the vengeful goddess of the sea who must be worshipped in exchange for releasing sea animals for hunters to capture, and Wise’s own urge to placate the demons in his life before moving onward.
Deep ideas, to be sure, and Wise says that those concepts come from his time in recovery.
“I got sober at age 16, and that’s a big part of my life,” he says. “I learned introspection early on because of that process. I started thinking more analytically, and college really pushed the limits of my thinking. I learned about Sedna in a Native American Religion and Culture class, and the more I learned about it, the more interesting it was. I didn’t expect it to resonate, but it was a beautiful story and I really liked it.”
Whatever resonance Wise felt with that legend was intertwined with an urge to go further creatively on Apricot Blush’s second album.
“I wanted to push myself,” he says. “This one isn’t as precise or intense as the last one; it’s very wide-ranging. The last album was made to help me cope; this one was to push myself as far as being a writer.”
Having recently graduated college, Wise is preparing for grad school and hoping to become a counselor for those in recovery from their own addictions. That means that, after their upcoming album-release show at The Ninjaplex in Greenville on Saturday and a brief East Coast tour, there might not be many more Apricot Blush shows in the near future.
“I’m not really sure what the future holds,” he says, “I don’t really have a choice but to write, but the shows might simmer down a little bit. We’ll put a question mark on that one.”