Dec 12, 2016

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Album Review: Will Varley – Kingsdown Sundown

2016 has been an impressive year for Will Varley, having toured North America, Ireland, Germany and the UK (including a sell-out show at Islington’s hallowed Union Chapel), and Kingsdown Sundown, his fourth studio album, looks set to be a career-defining release.

Written while travelling and touring, Varley admits that “these are the most honest songs I’ve ever written”, and a far cry from his famous singing felines and falsely philanthropic email scams. The newest record is soberly fitting of current global uncertainty and intimidating times.

Bearing an unflinching cultural relevance, Kingsdown Sundown is an emotionally draining but nevertheless vital listen from a much matured folk artist. While Varley has continually demonstrated himself as an engaged social commentator with a unique talent for illustrating portraits of true intimacy, to painting grander landscapes of the human condition, this album cements the importance of his voice..

Each track hangs heavily – there is no comedy to be had here – be it on a domestic or occasionally universal scale. Subverting a now iconic political slogan, Varley urges that We Want Our Planet Back amidst talk of building walls and the ominous undertone that Something is Breaking. The bleak political context of this album is inescapable, and still there are pockets of incredibly raw humanity which resonate powerfully  – When She Wakes Up, for instance, was written as Varley reflected on the world into which a close friend had just brought her newborn daughter, and is unendingly compelling.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. The album is exquisitely rounded off by the gentle swing of One Last Look At The View, and the soft, encouraging defiance of We’ll Keep Making Plans, showing that for this artist at least, all hope isn’t lost.

Of Kingsdown Sundown, Varley admits that it “may not be radio friendly, or even ‘friendly’ at all, but I’ve been wanting to make a record like this for a long time.” His assuredness is undeniable, and if Postcards From Ursa Minor was a particularly special release, then this album certainly deserves to continue his success in the year to come.

Kerry Manning