Rupert Wates “Lamentations” (Bite Music, 2020)

Rupert Wates is a songsmith in every sense of the word, a prolific songwriter with 10 album releases to his name, as well as co-writing and composition credits with a long list of artists. He is also no stranger to life on the road, performing an average of 120 dates per year. He has earned critical acclaim as both a songwriter and performer. Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange labelled him “a prime figure in American music” despite being a British ex-pat.

‘Lamentations’ is an evening captured, 10 tracks, each song recorded without overdubs displaying Wates craft as a world-class singer-songwriter. The album covers themes of life and death, love and separation, and key elements that keep the carousel of life spinning. Wates’ lyrical prowess shines through on ‘Waiting for a Friend of Mine’, which is displayed in the line “and until the end, when all the colours blend, you can be a friend of mine” a lyric which precisely encapsulates the feeling of the song. This is complemented by his own earthy guitar accompaniment, which provides Wates’s voice with a striking supporting melody that adds to the powerful movement of the track. This wonderful element of his artistry can also be heard on ‘And You Shall Have the World’. Wates’ masterful guitar work is further exhibited on the title track ‘Lamentations’ where the rolling guitar sits perfectly alongside Wates’ flowing melody.

Whilst the album is a fantastic presentation of Wates’ raw songwriting talent, the fact that it only contains the two elements of vocals and guitar does force a certain limiting factor on the delivery of the songs. It would be interesting to hear songs such as ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ in a similar form to tracks on his 2016 album ‘Colorado Mornings’. Yet songs such as ‘Farewell and Adieu’ benefit from being performed in this minimalistic way. Albums as organically recorded as ‘Lamentations’ are becoming less common, and this body of work proves that all an artist needs to make an impression on the listener, is a collection of well-crafted lyrics woven into an expert display of musicianship.

Well-crafted lyrics woven into an expert display of musicianship

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