Album review: Will Varley – Spirit Of Minnie
PUBLISHED: 16:58 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:58 13 February 2018
Cerebral but accessible singer-songwriter Varley bolsters his sound – and hopefully his fanbase – with fifth solo LP.
Counting the likes of Billy Bragg, Valerie June and Holloway’s own Frank Turner as fans, Varley’s fifth studio album marks the first time he has recorded with a full backing band, expanding on his signature pared-back sound but maintaining the expressive hook that’s earned him the respect of his peers and a burgeoning following.
Will Spirit… signal his break into the mainstream? Well, the warm, cascading sound of his backing band (mostly finger-picked acoustic guitar, piano and violin) sure suits his easy, Americana-flecked melodies, his lightly gruff vocal is an enigmatic splicing of Ray LaMontagne and David Gray, and he has a knack for pop refrains and direct, painterly lyricism – as catchy, mellifluous lead single All Those Stars attests. So the signs are good.
Bookending the lovelorn lyrics is philosophical, enveloping closing track Insect, calling the bluff of humanity, from the insanity of war to our lust for money and land – “Now all you need are those pieces of paper, and if you get enough of them you can exchange them for a tiny piece of the earth’s surface, and tell yourself you own it”.
Rating: 4/5 stars