If the time was ever ripe for a few protest songs it is now and Will Varley duly obliges on Kingsdown Sundown, his fourth full-length album. It isn’t all protest, however, and it certainly isn’t packed with political rantings. The songs are deep and thoughtful but when Will decides to tell it like it is he doesn’t hold back.
Musically it is deceptively simple, mostly just voice and acoustic guitar with some violin from Matt Tighe, percussion by Stewart Hughes and minimal electric guitar from producer Dave Hatton Jr. Two songs stand out immediately. The first is ‘To Build A Wall’ and I’m sure we all know what prompted that – “there’s many ways to build a wall” he sings. The second is the key track for me, ‘We Want Our Planet Back’. It says everything I want to scream at the world.
This may cause some controversy but there is so much of the young Bob Dylan in Will’s music. His voice isn’t “pretty” in the conventional sense and he sings in that lazy way that makes you think that his words are being sung straight from his head for the first time. It is supreme artistry that sounds like anything but artistry. Then there is the way he constructs his melodies, puts rhymes together and creates images. Take ‘One Last Look At The View’. It comes over as a song of the wilderness, a bit US road movie, until the line about a Premier Inn on the M25. ‘Something Is Breaking’ is really bleak in the same way that ‘Hard Rain’ is and ‘When She Wakes Up’ blends a love song with more of Will’s apocalyptic visions – “the revolution that you’ve been waiting for happened without you some years ago” is a chilling thought.
Kingsdown Sundown isn’t an easy album but it is so, so powerful, perfectly constructed to make the listener think hard about the world and our place in it.
Artist’s website: www.willvarley.com
‘To Build A Wall’ – official video: