REVIEW: Sheep,Dog&Wolf – Ablutophobia EP

Sheep,Dog&Wolf is 17-year old Daniel McBride from New Zealand. Now, age is indeed but a number, but when you’ve read all I have to say in this review and you – hopefully – listen to his music, you’ll read my opening sentence once more for a bit of startling emphasis. Just 17 years old. Comparable to other alternative folk-rock artists like Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver and Beirut, Sheep,Dog&Wolf‘s Ablutophobia EP is an absolutely stunning array of organic instrumentation and sheer passion.

Self-released via Bandcamp, the Ablutophobia EP is the result of a lot of time and dedication taken to craft five wondrous songs. There’s a definitive ‘chilling’ vibe throughout the release, manifested through the choral-style vocals and rhythmic build ups and breakdowns in the music, that send chills straight down your spine. With a distinctive maturity to his compositions – and with an exquisite layering of instrumentation – Daniel McBride has seemingly created something with a huge amount of depth and emotion seeped within it.


01. Ablutophobia
02. Not Aquatic
03. Tamefires
04. Holy Fires
05. Guaranteed Defective

The title track, Ablutophobia, is the longest on the EP at just over five and a half minutes long. This track is probably the best example of the range of instrumentation present on the release – it switches seamlessly between acoustic and woodwind sections, ultimately combining the styles and marrying them with a frenetic set of rhythms and driven vocal segments. Not Aquatic steadies the frenetic pace from the aforementioned track, starting with choral vocals and a slow build up, before steadying itself midway in the most delightful of manners. The last three tracks on the EP enter a more bluegrass, country-tinged folk-rock arena, with frantically sped rhythm and guitar sections.

One thing that I find quite intriguing about this release is how easy I believe fans of artists like Bonobo, Cinematic Orchestra and Fink would potentially invest in Sheep,Dog&Wolf’s sound. Arguably more so for the first two tracks on the EP than anything else – but, just for that use of the various woodwind instruments, coupled with the sincere arrangement and execution of the tracks. It’s certainly an admirable achievement and it leaves me wondering what else there is to come from Daniel McBride when he’s already created something as accomplished as the Ablutophobia EP at the age of just 17.