Patrick Wolf's new album "Sundark and Riverlight" is probably far too long, often crosses the line marked "overwrought" and has more tendencies to the theatrical excess than an average Kenneth Branagh stage production. But ultimately who cares? Listen to the stunning vocal performance of Wolf on opener "Wind in the wires" and you will forgive him any of his sins. Try not to melt when he utters the lines "Here comes a gale/A crippling anger/Sea birds are blown into the rocks/Grace is lost to thunder". True the Guardian has described this largely acoustic double album as "self indulgent" and it is. You have to ask what the Guardian expected, an album of Ramones covers perhaps. Its Patrick Wolf for god sake and in the ten year career of this South London dilettante he has majored on producing challenging albums of high drama and theatrics not least his deep melancholy classic 2003's debut "Lycanthropy".
Anyone who listens to Wolf is often struck by how much better his songs could be stripped backed and with less clutter. ""Sundark and Riverlight" tries to do this but despite its acoustic status it does not always succeed. Where Wolf does pull off a successes however they are huge victories. "Hard times" is turned into a beast of a eastern sounding ballad and a vocal tour de force which deserves your rapt attention. His reworking of one of his best songs "Bluebells" also should be compulsory listening for anyone with a passion for a heartfelt passionate vocal and a sophisticated musical palate. That said some songs of Wolf are in the "right first time" category and tunes like "The Magic Position" despite being a very competent version somehow loses its joyous and lovely pop edge in the darker version contained herein. Equally "Vulture" is transformed from a piece of almost Visage style electronica into a rolling piano ballad which whisper it quietly is rather dull.
This double album describes itself as a first disc of "dark" and a second with greater shades of "light". For those who loved Wolf's previous efforts you suspect that it is Disc 1 that will generate the most detailed scrutiny. Do not however fail to seek out the marvellous version of "Teignmouth" which is a real standout and the absolutely stripped back version of "House" which has considerable charm. Overall "Sundark and Riverlight" is the perfect introduction for the Wolf novice. Granted it is more sombre in tone than his usual work but it is probably more accessible due to its acoustic preoccupations. After ten years of making unique music Patrick Wolf remains a minority taste. This is a downright shame since he is always deeply interesting and when he does straddle the bar there are few British artists who deserve to stand on the medal podium with him. Would a single album and more tight editing been more profitable? The answer is undoubtedly yes, and yet it wouldn't be Patrick Wolf and for all his indulgences we should celebrate his sheer creativity and verve plus toast the next ten years.
Patrick Wolf is a man who just emanates talent, Within this two disc set he re-imagines his selected back catalogue, bringing forth a yearning and beauty that you may have missed previously when the songs were released in different incarnations. It's a truly wonderful and uplifting experience when you journey through this album from start to finish, So many emotions held therein as you travel through each song. I always gravitate to 'Teignmouth' as an example, A truly beautiful reading of the song encapsulated here.
I really like stripped down performances/acoustic renditions, and this is just awesome. The first time I heard 'Wind in the Wires' and 'Teignmouth' I was utterly hooked. I then got a little disappointed when I found out that this album was an exception rather than the rule, and that I'm hoping he does more 'less' in the future.
I suppose I'm saying that even if you don't have a taste for Mr Wolf's other albums, this one might still be up your street, and vice versa. Solid performances across loads of material - really good stuff.
A brilliant album and a must have for the collection. Patrick Wolf has reworked many of his songs to make them even more moving and not just dance tunes on the face of it. Contains some real classics from him.
This album is the epitome of Patrick's work over the last ten years. The tracks stripped down to their acoustic best the highlights being the grand piano and harp. The stand out tracks for me are Overture, Bluebells and from the excellent Wind in the Wires album, Teignmouth, The Libertine & Wind in the Wires. I don't know where PW will go next but feel that somewhere in the last five albums is the making of a great modern symphony.
I have been a fan of Patrick Wolf for years, and even though I have heard all of his albums plenty of times, I don't think I could tire listening to this latest one. Classic Patrick Wolf - and it is lovely to hear the different versions of his existing songs. Just marvy!