GARETH WILLIAMS – Songs From The Last Page (own label GWC01CD)

Songs From The Last PageGareth Williams could have called this album Music From Big Pink but it’s been done before although the pink house on the cover gets a mention. In fact, the genesis of Songs From The Last Page is much more complicated. Williams takes a book by a Scottish author and extracts something from its final lines from which to fashion a song echoing the emotion of that last page. All the songs are called ‘Song From The Last Page Of…’ except for two. The words of ‘Bà Bà Mo Leanabh’ come from Colum Mackinnon and the voice is that of Dierdre Graham who also provides backing vocals throughout. Williams cheats on ‘Song From Near The Last Page Of Peter Pan’ to find his source material.

Williams is, really, a classical composer who has written operas, song cycles and ensemble pieces and Songs From The Last Page certainly has that feel. It is built on Williams’ piano with only violin by Aisling O Dea and cello by Justyna Jablonska in support and you can’t call it easy listening.

The question is – can you fully appreciate the album without knowing the books? In this case I don’t think so, particularly if your taste in literature is as lowbrow as mine. I say this for two reasons. Firstly, Gareth doesn’t pinpoint the exact words that inspired each song and secondly, the mix has his voice too low making the words difficult to discern. I can enjoy the sonic landscapes of the album and with extensive listening I’d probably get more out of the stories. But time is pressing on.

Songs From The Last Page is a fine original idea but its presentation lets it down. I have one of these books on my shelf but, sadly, this album doesn’t inspire me to investigate the other ten.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Song From The Last Page Of Ulysses’ – demo:

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