For about a year, Youth Rescue Mission was just an idea. Hannah Williams, singer and keyboardist for Seattle band Friday Mile, first recorded four songs with her three brothers around this time last year. Since then, they played a set at Doe Bay Fest this summer and have written a handful of new songs, but Youth Rescue Mission's show last night at the Tractor Tavern was their first official outing as a band.
Youth Rescue Mission performed their first show Thursday night at the Sunset Tavern.
There is a simplicity and naivete to the lo-fi, stripped-down songs Youth Rescue Mission plays. Only three of the members performed last night (Hannah, Luke, and Daniel Williams; Jesse lives in Montana), and they stood at the front of the stage, in a row, calmly playing their acoustic guitars and brushed drums. Hannah only played her keyboard briefly during one song; for the most part, their quiet, harmonic songs are guitar-driven.
Even though there were moments of awkwardness--between songs, no one really talked to the audience, and they went the whole set without introducing the name of their band--there was also something organic about how the Williamses played together. They didn't hit three part harmonies on every song, because they didn't need to. Their voices blended sweetly together, almost as if there was just one, three-headed musician on stage.
This set-up was a much better showcase for Hannah Williams' talents than her primary music outlet. As I've said before, she's the best part of Friday Mile--but in that band, she's more sultry and wild, pounding her keyboard, adding back-up vocals more often than lead. In Youth Rescue Mission, she's sharing equal performing responsibilities, switching off instruments and lead vocals with her siblings on each song. She's much calmer and at ease here; her voice sounds mellow and harmonic instead of out of place and forced.
But it's possible that the calm, organic nature of Youth Rescue Mission could undermine their songwriting. Right now, most of their songs--aside from an admittedly adorable, jazzy cover of the "Reading Rainbow" theme--are similar in sound and structure. They're quiet compositions that alternate between instrumentation on the verses and silence in between, giving them a start-and-stop quality. Youth Rescue Mission need more songs like "So Many Times," which has handclaps and faster guitars--it's got a tinge of pop energy and showcases that the brothers can harmonize with each other as well as their sister. That little extra push will take Youth Rescue Mission from being just an idea to a local band on the rise.