- Audio CD (4 Nov. 2016)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Xtra Mile Recordings
- ASIN: B01LBXAZ1I
- Other Editions: Vinyl
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,641 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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With the follow-up to the stellar Postcards From Ursa Minor, an album that propelled Will into unexplored territory, return tours with The Proclaimers and unbelievable summer festival sets, he continues to build upon broken spirits with this set of almost unbearably raw songs. First track to be lifted from the album is 'To Build A Wall' -- an unnervingly timely indictment of simplistic solutions to incredible complex problems on both sides of the pond. Recorded underneath a pub by the sea in Deal, Kent as the waves roared outside, Kingsdown Sundown is a bleak and uncompromising critique of the human condition, journeying deep into our dreams, faults, regrets and politics. The songs are more visceral and uneasy than before, with fights in KFC descending into world wars, the all too real plight of refugees and the recent rise in hate crime. A collection of folk songs written over the course of the last year while travelling and touring -- written on tour buses and trains, scribbled on the back of set lists and receipts -- Will says "these are the most honest songs I've ever written and they represent new ground for me creatively. They may not be radio friendly, or even 'friendly' at all, but I've been wanting to make a record like this for a long time." The rest of the album is hazier, more spectral and a phantom of memories, dreams, and hopes. If there's one song that haunts as much as it heals and warms the soul, it's 'Let Your Guard Down' which sounds like it was sung deeply into the howling wind in defiance, in hope and fear. The most directly political song 'We Want Our Planet Back' feels strongly enough to strap on an electric guitar and strum over Will's patient protest, but it indirectly lends its brooding power to 'Too Late Too Soon' which seems ready to crumple and break, a sandcastle made of a simmering mood. 'Back To Hell' could have come from any period in superstitious folk history, a tale of vague menace, mysticism and the underworld. Finally, 'We'll Keep Making Plans' threatens to build to a crescendo, but instead lets us drift out into a mental sea where the sun is setting on what we knew in favour of the unknown, resolving to carry on, continuing to build our futures on shakier foundations. It's somehow not dispiriting; it's more driven by determination to allow sadness not to rule our lives, but be an important part of it.
Top customer reviews
The album is different to his previous albums, and after a month or so of listening and comparing, in my opinion its not his best. But its still great. If you're a fan of Will's thought-provoking lyrics and fantastic story-telling you'll love it, coupled with some really sombre and understated guitar work. The only issue I have with the album is it all sounds quite similar. What I did used to love about Will's albums was the mix of perhaps 3 main themes - thoughtful, at times sad reflections on life; quirky and funny folky songs about modern society; and thirdly a political side which shed light on issues that affect us in a really meaningful way. This album seems to be mainly the former. There isn't really any funny or upbeat songs on the album. This is great if you're in the mood for them, but the album lacks variety in this sense. The two political type songs - To Build a Wall and We Want Our Planet Back - are great, and feel so, so relevant in contemporary times. They are without a doubt my two favourite tracks on the album.
Will's last album, 'Postcards from Ursa Minor', remains my personal favourite, it had just the right mix of songs and styles that made it great to listen to, it was like a roller-coaster of emotions. It also felt that the music was becoming more commercially available (not always a good thing - but was in this sense) and that Will was headed for a major breakthrough. Certain songs on that album with the right exposure wouldn't have been out of place on the radio on the big festival stage.
However, this album is still great. It doesn't quite live up to the last for me, and maybe that's why my review may seem a bit negative - but if you like Will Varley this is a really solid album with some really thoughtful and well-written songs. If you have all of his albums, this may fit a certain mood more than others. But if you want to be upbeat, angry, or to have a laugh, you can always turn to some of his older work. The collection as a whole is just such a good discography and this is a worthy addition!
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