Lupin* lover who finds difficulty in perfecting the technique of playing the guitar standing up and then having to adopt a suitable musicians stance releases his first full length album under his adopted title of Lone Wolf. Paul Marshall follows up his 2007 release, 'Vultures' (put out under his birth name) with potent songs focusing, in the main, on love and death.
The London born Whitby raised Leeds dweller with the previous accolade of sounding a little like Nick Drake and the audacity, or where with all, to cover Fairytale Of New York has certainly honed his formidable song writing skills. The Devil & I is an album laden with references to the afterlife, the realities of death, murder, drowning and the tragedies of lost love.
'This Is War' opens up your musical macabre delight with a flawless song about a relationship meltdown. (Is it physical or chemical, I'm not sure) The song is set in two parts of equal merit. The first is a scene setter of brooding and foreboding, mapping out the characters for you with fantastic anecdotal recollections ..."I slaughtered her a cow and I'm a vegetarian" builds the picture as you get the authors resentment in waves...."I used my chemistry skills to bake her every pill she could swallow" The bubbling undercurrent breaks at 2m6sec to release the tension and trauma. In act two the keyboards, horns and thunderous drum beat combine to a climatic final chapter.
"She stole my twenties from me,
My face has never looked so thin.
I hide behind facial hair,
But people aren't stupid,
They can see what I'm doing.
I'm trying to pretend I won this war,
Between my brian and her brawn.
But this is a war I won't be coming home from...........................
My kids will understand someday."
If you only bought the album for this song, you would not be disappointed. Is going further going to tarnish your enjoyment? Are you going to experience more like it, or be let down by the openers insurmountable quality?
Track 2, 'Keep Your Eyes On The Road' is the debut single from the album. The baroque meets West Coast beach blend of folk fills the tune. The accompanying video is even an homage to the inspirational Peter Gabriel SledgeHammer animation. Its changing tempo and lighter touch gently trying to restrain you from the actual content delivered within the song. 'We Could Use Your Blood' has an almost All About Eve, 'Martha's Harbour' feel about it whilst 'Buried Beneath Tiles' uses strings and a very cinematic use of stormy percussion to create its imagery. Should you have stuck on 1?
'15 Letters' is the reward for metaphorically twisting. The most stripped back of arrangements and simple structure work wonderfully well with an acoustic guitar, a few keys and the odd string section set to the Lone Wolf's warm vocal tones. "She lead me down the garden path and bled me...dry." This man could write a novel in four verses. His song writing comparisons to Nick Cave are easily justified. Completing the ten tracks there is an Angelo Badalamenti/Twin Peaks doused offering in 'Dead River' replete whistled solo. The two part, half instrumental, title track(s) give weight to the atmospheric and filmic qualities to the work whilst 'Russian Winter' and 'Soldiers' paint more fantastically captured imagery.
In the Devil & I Lone Wolf has stretched himself to produce some great work. Taken in isolation some of these songs are truly fantastic but as a body of work they give more up upon each listen. This is why albums should be bought complete. It may have its highs and lows but in the end all parts combine to deliver tremendous enjoyment in copious amounts.
*Lupin is his cat.