Will Varley's much anticipated follow-up album to his brilliant 2011 album 'Advert Soundtracks' has been well worth the wait. 'As The Crow Flies' is no step change for Will but more of a gentle development on a carefully woven thread. Since the release of his last album, Will has not exactly been merely contemplative; he has gigged relentlessly, most recently and successfully as support to kindred spirit Beans On Toast, and in the last year Will has also self-published his first novel 'Sketch Of A Last Day'. No wonder, then, that his story telling abilities have not diminished in the two years between each release. His humour, empathy, sensitivity and pathos are all evident throughout this collection of eleven new tracks.
Where 'As The Crow Flies' differs slightly is in its mood and energy. The feel of this album is less immediate, less agitated, mellower and with a broader sense of maturity. It is a product of its time but not defined by or restricted by it. There is more of a soulful feel to Will's voice too, a gentle smoothness that is both soothing and captivating in its tone. As if to aptly complete this subtle transition, Will has also become a more accomplished musician, crafting many beautiful compositions from his acoustic guitar.
The album starts with Will's love letter to Deal. 'Where The Wild Wind Blows' captures the very essence of Will's Deal, from its pubs and bars (where many of these songs were written) to the beach and the cafes and the wind-blown in from the Channel that whips around the town. 'Weddings And Wars' sees a more cynical side to Will Varley's verse as he questions our very existence, its purpose and the absurdity of it all. It is one of Will's more complex arrangements, joined as he is by Aidan Shepherd on accordion, Natasha Greenham on fiddle and Nicola Vella on backing vocals (members of Will's stable mate band Cocolovers). The enhanced mix works well as the extra instrumentation is introduced to great effect complimenting Will's impassioned vocal: 'Instead of mountains, we're heading for Mars, instead of God we have credit cards.'
Continue reading: Will Varley - As The Crow Flies Album Review
Double 'A' side singles come along very rarely these days; long gone and sadly missed are the days of flipping your 45rpm vinyl between 'Straight To Hell' and 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?' Rarer still is a double whammy from two artists from the same stable. Whilst the vinyl revival may still be bubbling away in the corners of your local record store or in the living rooms of the sentimental fundamentalist or seriously traditional music lover, the main drivers of today's music business are clearly digital downloads, CDs and live performances. So it is with great pleasure, some surprise and, above all, unwavering appreciation for all concerned that I can share the latest release from Smugglers Records.
The Deal based record label is well known for its fabulous roster of multi-talented Folk and Roots flavoured artists and for its organic, earthy and inclusive ideology, so putting out a 7" single of such unique quality probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise. As if to confirm they are one happy family, the two major artists on the label have combined their not inconsiderable talents for the first, hopefully of many, 'Smugglers Record Club' single releases. The premium package from the two very different artists, namely Cocoslovers and Will Varley, is not only bound by the label but also by their particular propensity for superb song-writing.
Continue reading: Will Varley, King For A King Single Review
Will Varley may have been born in Brixton six years later than the riots there had come to symbolise a back-lash to Thatcher's Britain but his spirit and ethos have many parallels with his contemporaries of the time. The social unrest, crippling unempoyment, growing racial tension and economic recession that lead to the riots were a unifying set of circumstances across the country for all those that opposed the increasingly tiered and privileged system that was prevalent at the time. Every era has a great orator or song writer to capture the current mood of the proletariat, the working man on the street, the less fortunate and the underprivileged. Each generation usually has a voice that can convey more than the facts, they somehow seem to be able to superbly argue their case, make you believe their alternate manifesto and above all make you feel the incredible intensity that afford some of the most emotive issues of the day. Will Varley could be today's equivalent. Guthrie, Dylan, Cash and Bragg have all done far more than just sung about an event or an era they have in some cases come to define it. Had Will Varley been born in a different age it's a fair assumption he'd have been opposed to The Vietnam War, campaigned for CND, stood side to side with the striking miners and been part of the short lived, ill conceived, Red Wedge. Although he may sing of being saved by David Cameron I think it unlikely that he voted Tory.
Continue reading: Will Varley, Advert Soundtracks Album Review
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