I think most people would agree that there are songs that make you want to cry, and songs that make you want to dance. But the opening track on Dead Flowers’ début album ‘Make It Bright’ makes me want to do both of those. And I think that’s got to be a first.
Based around the songs of Ian Williams, this is far from another British band playing Americana. Williams’ voice has – rightly – drawn comparisons of Bill Callahan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. A bold claim, perhaps, until you hear the album. He’s got one of the deepest, gruffest voices on record. And to paraphrase Wilco, it sounds like he really is trying to break your heart.
These eight songs hang together like a journey – no surprise, then, to discover that he wrote these songs on a trip up America’s East Coast, from Coney Island to Montreal. It’s like taking a journey at sunset to a gorgeously sad, ultra-melancholic (I don’t know if that’s a word but it should be) soundtrack. It’s dark, but there’s a beauty here. Heck, if this was a classical work it would be a requiem.
There are fiddles and pump organs, songs that sound like hymns and a piece of work that were it any longer than 34 minutes might be too much to bear. If there’s any justice, this record will come to rank alongside the likes of Things We Lost In The Fire, The Boatman’s Call and Third/Sister Lovers.
Truly, truly exceptional.
Midnight At The Wheel Club is released on Hee Haw on November 11.