After more than a decade of non-stop touring, acclaimed Austin songwriting duo, Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins, quietly stopped touring as Wild Child — their accidental indie band conceived in the back seat of someone else's tour van.
Wilson joined the singer-songwriter super group, Glorietta, and debuted her genre-bending, Motown-influenced solo project, Sir Woman — Austin Music Awards' Best New Act of 2020 that NPR critic Gini Moscorro called an effortless move into "a brave new R&B-infused, gospel-flecked world where her golden pipes ease you back into a fluffy pillow of serenity and bliss."
And Beggins unveiled his musical alter-ego, Coco Zani, with the release of his first solo album, "As Simple As A Dream" featuring the single, "Paradise," which The Wild Honey Pie called "the perfect soundtrack for waltzing around your room."
Headed in different sonic directions, Wilson and Beggins didn't know if they would ever make another Wild Child record. Then, well, what felt like the "end of the world" brought them back together.
Pandemic lockdowns closed stages and drained bank accounts. In Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, local bands took their shows to the internet. Wild Child was no different.
Wilson and Beggins got together to practice for a series of online performances for devout fans. And within in 30 minutes, they wrote the first single for what would accidentally become Wild Child's fifth album, End of the World.
The song, Photographs, is a bittersweet, ukulele-backed duet that Wilson calls "something familiar for Wild Child fans who have stuck with us over the years."
"It felt like our very first record, when the two of us wrote a bunch of songs while on tour for someone else. There wasn't any aim to do anything with those songs at the beginning. For the first time since then, that's how we started writing these songs. We didn't know if we would make another record. It just came together," Beggins said.
And it couldn't have happened at a more terrible time. Take Day 3 of the 2021 Texas Big Freeze, for instance. Thirteen displaced Austin pals had taken refuge at Wilson's house.
There was no electricity, no indoor plumbing and no end in sight. At the moment Wilson couldn't possibly take it anymore, singer/songwriter John Calvin Abney played a '90s-alternative riff on an acoustic guitar.
"I just started signing about things that were freaking me out. Wearing a mask for a year. Global warming. There's no heat, no water. It was like a dirge to begin with. But by the end we were all screaming and laughing that, yes, this might be the end of the world, but we're all together right now, making music in my living room by candlelight. It's all OK."
The next morning, during a lull in the storm, the Wild Child caravan — complete with drummer and guitarist Tom Meyers, guitarist Cody Ackors and bassist and piano player Taylor Craft (Sir Woman) — braved icy rodes to recording engineer Matt Pence's The Echo Lab studios outside Denton, Texas.
John Calvin Abney, who critics say exudes a "vulnerability reminiscent of Elliott Smith", tagged along as first songwriter to collaborate with Beggins and Wilson on a Wild Child album. His contributions were an unplanned blessing amid so much impending doom.
"John was dating one of Kelsey's roommates when we met. The first time we played together, we just fell in love with each other," Beggins said of Abney. "When you have a musical partnership, like Kelsey and I have had for a decade, it's strange to change the formula of writing. But we found someone we both trust and like working with."
Wild Child arrived at The Echo Lab with studio time running short. They didn't even stop to shower before recording an unwashed, rendition of "End of the World" flush with in-the-moment angst.
"There's no ukulele. I'm singing differently than I ever have before. You can hear my voice crack, and all the energy behind everyone playing," Wilson said. "That set the tone. There were no boundaries. We we're back to how it was on Day One. We were making this music because we really needed to make it for ourselves."
Wild Child's fifth album, "End of the World," was mixed by Matt Pence (Jason Isbell, Elle King) and includes guitarist Charlie Wiles (Paul Cauthen, John Moreland, Orville Peck).