WILL PAGE – Still Standing (Union Music Label UML024)

Still StandingWell, here’s a splendid solo debut album from the young singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/Noble Jacks frontman from Sussex. Still Standing has nothing to do with Elton John (fortunately) but does feature a collaboration with Steve Knightley and support from percussionist Cormac Byrne and bass-player Jack Hosgood. Will began his career as a fiddle-player, expanded his range and found his voice, strong and unmannered in the modern style.

The themes of the album are resilience and fortitude overlaid with elements of protest. The opener, ‘The Rise’, encompasses the core message: “Hold on, we can stand together/hold on, we can find a way”. All of Will’s songs exhibit musical variety with ‘The Rise’ switching to banjo for the last chorus before exploding into a wild fiddle tune. Unexpectedly, Will changes tack with ‘The Cuckoo’ – the American gambler’s song – which he gives an optimistic spin and then comes the Steve Knightley co-write, ‘Find Your Light’. This is another foot stomper of a song urging us not to take life lying down.

The real piece de resistance is ‘Strength To Carry On’. It begins like something out of an Angela Brazil novel until you realise what it is actually about. The story is inspired by Will’s grandmother who, despite being paralysed by polio, became a journalist and was eventually awarded the MBE. You want resilience and fortitude, here it is.

Will lightens up a bit with a complex love song, ‘Leaving For The Weekend’ – ah, the sweet pain of youth – followed by two fiddle/banjo tunes, ‘Strip Jig – Part 1’ and ‘Strip Jig – Part 2’. Next up is ‘Broadstairs’, a tribute to the Kentish festival, and not the sort of the song I really care for; sorry, Will. If you can remember enough about a festival to write a song about it you probably weren’t doing it right and, anyway, the best song about Woodstock was written by someone who wasn’t there. And before you ask, I have been to Broadstairs. It’s a jolly song and perhaps I’m being too serious.

‘Oceans’ is inspired by busking by the sea and finally comes the title track which is Will’s position paper: I’ve survived and I’m still standing and nothing is going to change that despite life’s vicissitudes. Still Standing is a knockout album and Will is following in the footsteps of Show Of Hands and Seth Lakeman.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.willpagemusic.com

‘Strength To Carry On’ – official video:

We all give our spare time to run folking.com. Our aim has always been to keep folking a free service for our visitors, artists, PR agencies and tour promoters. If you wish help out and donate something (running costs currently funded by Paul Miles), please click the PayPal link below to send us a small one off payment or a monthly contribution.