Born in London and now based in New York, Wates is both singer-songwriter and author, this latest collection, his ninth, a companion piece to his short stories collection, City of Lights, both inspired by his time spent living in Paris.
As evidenced by the opening 'The Balladeer', a look back to the 60s troubadours tradition in which he's cast, he often both sings and plays guitar at a brisk pace. In contrast, however, the likes of the strings-enrobed economic-depression themed 'Long Winter Is Coming On' and the eco-themed optimism of 'The Time Will Come' are both slower, bluesier affairs. The songs encompassing a stark look at the dark shadows of today's world with 'The Lights of Paris', the closing number, standing as a symbol of love and hope, he variously reminds me of Ralph McTell, Tom Paxton, Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapin, his inflections at times reminiscent of Jake Thackray and Peter Skellern, while the ghosts of Brel and Brecht don't hover too far away.
With the fingerpicked 'Fields of America' and 'The Day The Great Ship Went Down', both laments for the death of the American dream of liberty and equality, and the violin and cello accompanied call to arms of 'I Can't Shut My Eyes' among the many highlights, these lights shine bright.
|Zoe Mulford: Small Brown Birds||Josh Taerk: Stages|
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