Rupert Wates “For the People”

Bite Music, 2022

A feast of finger picked English folk from career songsmith.

Album artwork for Rupert Wates album For the PeopleRupert Wates may just be English folk music’s best kept secret. Certainly no newcomer, ‘For the People’ is his 12th studio album from a body of work spanning two decades. And he’s never far from the stage either, averaging 120 live shows every year across America, Canada and Europe. Yet Wates has never achieved the level of fame deserving of such pedigree. So far…

Born in London but now residing in New York via Paris and Colorado, his back catalogue is an eclectic mix of acoustic, melodic art/folk, with flavours of jazz, vaudeville and cabaret. ‘For the People’ represents a return to Wates’ roots in English folk. Most of the songs are loosely based on old English folk tales, which tell stories of ordinary people over the last few centuries. Here are soldiers on the eve of war; sailors on a smuggling ship; jilted lovers. The accompaniment is simple, and the line-up is sparse.

These are masterfully crafted songs, with a strong nautical theme flowing through them. Finger picked notes cascade like waterfalls, rushing and rising, occasionally slowing to a lull, but always present. Powerfully evoking the vocal style of Richard Thompson and the finger picking prowess of John Martyn, ‘For the People’ contains tales of murder, confession, love, discovery, piracy and theft, with ‘Oh Captain’ the standout piece among them. Maybe this is the album that will finally elevate Wates’ star to the levels befitting a man of his talent.

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