Songs You Should Know: “Wolf in a Suit” – J. F. Oakes

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A few years ago, I had the privilege of hearing J. F. Oakes perform live a then-new original tune called “Wolf in a Suit,” and ever since, I have been eagerly awaiting the release an official studio version. Well, Oakes’s new album, 10 Years and an Acorn, dropped worldwide this past Tuesday, and “Wolf” is on tap!
 
For me, Oakes is at his best in the country/folk range. He’s a masterclass in lyrical orchestration of “folksy” wit (look at “Road Less Traveled” from Acknowledge the Corn), and working in that down-home genre sweet spot allows him full liberty to explore those comedic sensibilities—an exploration which may have reached its apex with “Wolf in a Suit.” 
 
Like “Road,” and also its album-mate “Can’t Go Back,” “Wolf” sports a plethora of idiomatic expressions, packaged to rhyme and painting a complete picture, which is, in this case, an unflattering portrait of the type of two-faced, narcissistic, no-good, four-flusher that most, if not all, of us have had the displeasure of knowing. 
 
But just to clarify, it’s an extremely humorous send-up of “that type,” and Oakes is clearly having a figurative ball lambasting characters of that ilk. His voice is loose and free, and random vocal ad libs in the background only add to the fun. The instrumentation, too, complements the vibe, punctuating the quirky jokiness of the affair with equally idiosyncratic stylings. The slide guitar in particular seems to be “commenting” on the topic throughout the engagement.
 
Being chock full of easy-going, “everyman” witticisms and catchy “as all get out,” the tune is highly reminiscent of the best of Roger Miller’s work (“Dang Me,” anyone?), and I don’t think I can bestow a higher compliment on a funny, sing-along ditty.