A singer-songwriter album that showcases sides of King we don’t see in his day job.
King is one half of the duo My Darling Clementine, but this is far more of a “Singer-Songwriter” album than their output. A previous reviewer has described his voice as a “cross between Nick Cave and Rodney Crowell”. The touchpoints for the album’s songwriting include John Prine. The song ‘Sugar’ was written with Peter Case and ‘Theory Of Truthmakers’ uses unused lyrics from his late collaborator Jackie Leven. ‘Sugar’ is one of the standout songs here. As well as including a wonderful, if brief electric guitar solo the song is a delicate piece which reveals itself over several listens. King explained its creation to AUK’s Andrew Frolish recently.
The album stretches his music beyond what you might expect from My Darling Clementine. ‘The Final Reel’ is a folk song that you might hear from the English North East with whistle and Mandolin supporting the tune. ‘The Old Soft Shoe’ a forties style song which highlights what a good singer King is on his own. There is a 70s feel to some of the songs here, notably ‘Valerie’s Coming Home’ and ‘Weight of the World’. This song appears twice opening the album and then closing it as a ’Ghostwriter remix’ The remix is very subtle, sparser with more focus on electric guitar and electric piano. The American news radio inserts in the middle of the remix reflect the subject matter well as does the accompanying video. But it’s a fine song however and either version works very well.
‘Theory Of Truthmakers’ stands slightly apart in feel from the rest of the record. It’s almost as if King was consciously evoking the spirit of Jackie Leven. Sharing the chorus with his My Darling Clementine partner Lou Dalgleish lifts the rather despondent atmosphere of the song. Each song seems to have an instrumental or vocal highlight to make it stand out from the rest of the album. The organ and piano on ‘The Hardest Thing of All’, the trombone, courtesy of Barnaby Dickinson, on ‘The Old Soft Shoe’ and others make each song its own little world, linked together by King’s rich velvety voice. Supporters on these instrumental parts include Steve Nieve on keyboards Jeb Loy Nichols and King’s daughter Mabel Dalgleish-King.
Michael Weston King is one of those artists who flies just under the notice of the wider album buying public who would love him. ‘The Struggle’ is released by Cherry Red Records and that will hopefully give him a bit of marketing push to get this fine album noticed.