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Long Mama’s outlaw tale takes a hard look at the ‘bad guy’

Every week, Milwaukee Music Premiere connects the city’s artists with our listening audience. If you’re an artist with a track you’d like us to debut exclusively on Radio Milwaukee, head over to our Music Submission page to learn how.

Some songs are an emotional journey. Others are a 48-day pursuit of an outlaw through the Canadian Rockies in the 1930s. You can probably guess which camp Long Mama’s “The Narrows” falls into.

Songwriter and vocalist Kat Wodtke got inspired by The Mad Trapper of Rat River, a book about an actual outlaw and the manhunt that wound through the mountains north of the border. You can feel that pursuit in the percussion that leads off the track with an unrelenting vibe that makes you want to look over your shoulder.

When the guitars join, the tone is vaguely sinister throughout. But Wodtke’s vocal performance and lyrics cut through that by taking the sympathetic viewpoint of the outlaw:

They called me a madman.
They called me a ghost.
Forty-eight days running at forty below.

The picture only gets more vivid from there as mounties close in and (spoiler alert) ultimately take down their quarry before inventorying everything on his “icy cold body.” Wodtke spares few details, and the song is better for it.

You can listen to “The Narrows” below and on-air at 88Nine. Then, if you dig the track, head over to Long Mama’s Bandcamp page and check out their debut album, Poor Pretender, due out Oct. 28.
"The Narrows," Long Mama