Thursday, April 28, 2022

Michael Weston King - The Struggle

For over thirty years UK singer-songwriter Michael Weston King has had a very successful music career, initially as a member of the bands Fragile Friends, Gary Hall and the Stormkeepers and The Good Sons, followed by a solo career and then for the past ten years as half the duo My Darling Clementine with his wife Lou Dalgleish.
  Now he is back with The Struggle, his first solo album in ten years, which was 
recorded in a rural studio in Wales and features guest appearances from Elvis Costello’s long-standing keyboard player Steve Nieve, Jeb Loy Nichols, his wife Lou, his daughter Mabel Dalgleish-King and others. The resulting album is a gorgeous set of tunes rooted in the sounds of late 60’s and early 70’s singer songwriters with a bit of country and folk added to the mix, at times bringing to mind artists from John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and Jesse Winchester to Van Morrison, Harry Chapin and even Scott Walker.  Lyrically King does an outstanding job of tackling subjects as a storyteller and paints a very visual picture with his words.  Several of the songs tackle the struggles of life and getting older.  “The Hardest Thing Of All”, details battling depression and just getting through the day, “Valerie’s Coming Home” is a heartbreaking song about packing up everything after the passing of his mother-in-law and “Another Dying Day” is about the despair of being alone after a relationship ends.  While “Weight of the World” finds him displaying his disgust with Trump’s march to St. Johns Church to deal with Black Live Matters protestors by looking at it from the view of a policeman who voted for him but now sees who he really is, “Sugar”, co-written with Peter Case, shows how quickly love can get it grips in you and “Me And Frank” is a buddy song with hints of “Pancho and Lefty”.  King's rich, soulful vocals along with the musicianship and arrangements are top notch throughout and the added touches in the instrumentation like the slide guitar and mandolin on “Sugar”, the organ on “The Hardest Thing Of All”, the string arrangements on “Another Dying Day” and trombone on “Old Soft Shoe” really enhance them.  Another track of note is “Theory Of Truthmakers”, which contains unused lyrics from Michael’s late friend and collaborator Jackie Leven that were passed on to him by a mutual friend, and is somewhat reminiscent of Scott Walker, fleshed out beautifully with mandolin, keyboards, strings, piano and has his wife Lou sharing vocals with him.  The Struggle is definitely a welcome return to the solo world of Michael Weston King.   

(Cherry Red Records)

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