William Wallace “Lighthouse Keeper”

Independent, 2023

An impressive debut album of songs that no one else has thought to write.

Austin TX singer-songwriter William Wallace’s first album opens with ‘The Stars My Destination’ which shares a title with the classic sci-fi novel by Alfred Bester. And that is the first clue that his writing is far from the routine fare of country American songwriters. His press tells us. “William Wallace writes songs no one else would write. He is probably the only songwriter in Austin with a tune about the 19th century mystic Helena Blavatsky, one about the romance between Harpo Marx and Amelia Earhart, and another country classic about demon-possessed nuns”.

The Stars My Destination’, has many of the hallmarks of “typical” country-based Americana, the strummed acoustic guitar, organ, and a slightly gruff voice sharing the words with us. And it’s those words that elevate this record above the ordinary. ‘St. Germain’ is a beguiling mid-tempo shuffle that settles into your subconscious, and a lyric that is hard to unpick.

The title track starts with Byrds-style electric guitar and features a tale that may (or may not, Wallace’s lyrics are all open to personal interpretation) be a modern take on The Odyssey. “There’s a man here on a motorbike. With three miles worth of road to call his own. It’s the closest thing to freedom. He can get without straying too far from home. And every day he revs his engine. To wake the fisherman and the last of the late sleepers. He’s lonely as a lighthouse keeper.”

Green Dress’ is a sweet country duet, possibly with Shawnee Kilgore, who plays what is another thing that is hard to unpick. The haunting guitar solo and distant accordion add a melancholy air to the tune. ‘Eveline’, a love song set in the ruins of Pompeii, is a delicate delight with a Dylanesque acoustic guitar backing his voice, which is shown to its best effect on this song.  The aforementioned ‘Harpo and Amelia’ is an old-timey dance song, with fiddle and mandolin taking the lead behind more duet voices, and a gentle, but insistent swing.

The songs trail off a bit towards the end, although there is nothing here that doesn’t bear repeat playing, Wallace has just set a very high bar for himself. He spent 4 years living in Brighton and songs like the album closer, ‘The Space Between Our Hearts’ and ‘Row’ have a more English folk to them, which adds to the variety without losing his own voice.

As a first full-length album, he has a couple of EPs to his name previously, this is a more than impressive effort and should see William Wallace on the way to building a fan base who love his captivating way with words.

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About Tim Martin 246 Articles
Sat in my shed listening to music, and writing about some of it. Occasionally allowed out to attend gigs.
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Dante Rebori

Just now discovering the musical genius and sound of William Wallace. He is marvelous! I’m definitely on board!