Having supported the likes of Billy Bragg and The Proclaimers, played a sold-out a headline show at London’s Union Chapel and made numerous appearances at 2000 Trees, it’s safe to say that Will Varley’s tenacity for making music since his teens has been paying off well in recent years. When the Kingston Upon Thames based folk artist was signed to Xtra Mile records in 2015, it’s unsurprising that his previous albums ‘Postcards From Ursa Minor’ and ‘Kingsdown Sundown’ were compared to Frank Turner’s material. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, but with ‘Spirit Of Mine’ he has been able to veer away from this comparison as he continues to mature as a storyteller, alongside a full backing band that greatly enhances his fifth LP.
Whether it’s the warm keyboard section on ‘Screenplay’, the subtle drum fills of opener ‘All Those Stars’ or the gorgeous violin on ‘The Postman’, Varley has ensured that each blissful folk anthem sounds more instrumentally grandiose than the last.
Outside the backing repertoire, Varley still manages to sound visceral and endearing as ever on the stripped back ‘Breaking The Bread’. Whilst it has many of the typical romantic folk tropes, lines such as “So as this interlude is short, I will state my intent, marry me beneath the trees” prevent it from becoming a cliché.
‘Let It Slide’ in comparison is a tale of melancholy stirred from heavy drinking to escape the pain of an absent lover. It’s slow and feels weighed down by misery. Fittingly enough it almost sounds like a song from Matt Eliott’s ‘Drinking Songs’, with its heavy use of downtrodden violin and it’s iconic chorus “Let it roll, let it roll, let it slide out of control.”
Whilst the possibilities for Varley’s future songwriting with an accompanying band are endless, the now nine brilliant tracks on ‘Spirit Of Minnie’ create a captivating story that’s worth your time and energy listening to.
‘Spirit Of Mine’ by Will Varley is out now on Xtra Mlie Recordings.
Words by Ashwin Bhandari ()