If you are expecting something akin to Stiltskin’s 1990s monolith Mind’s Eye from the band’s front man Ray Wilson’s latest solo album Song for a Friend – or indeed something as multi-layered as his contribution to the Genesis catalogue, Station to Station – then you’re going to be in for a bit of a surprise.
To describe the album as intimate is an understatement in the extreme and it is this outpouring of innermost thoughts and feelings that truly works on what is, ultimately, a beautifully uplifting album which has been beautifully mixed by Yogi Lang.
That Song for a Friend as a whole sounds so personal is hardly surprising, given that it is inspired by and dedicated to Wilson’s late friend James Lewis, with many of the 10 songs embodying the feelings of self-doubt that all artists battle against, Wilson among them. The title track itself, though, simply drips with a passion which seeps through everything collected here and forces us to reconsider our sense of worth and self in a manner that is truly enriching.
Take Cold Light of Day, for example. “When you’re down and out, there’s no one to help,” the song goes, “you just have to sit there feeling sorry for yourself.” Though with its chorus beginning “Don’t you think it’s foolish to burn all of your bridges,” far from being a song riddled with despair it instead becomes a harbinger of expectation that simply soars above the norm.
Long time Stitlskin contributor Uwe Metzler’s contribution should not go unmentioned here, either. The man’s consummate acoustic guitar work provides a gentle underscoring to the tales Wilson is spinning, whilst at the same time dabbing shades of light amidst what could be an otherwise dark, somewhat depressing homage to inner turmoil.
That the album concludes on a somewhat brave – and, incidentally, excellent – cover of Pink Floyd’s High Hopes speaks volumes, because far from being a collection of songs for the morose, Song for a Friend is a celebration of life, love, longing, loss, joy and regret that is strangely upbeat.
It may take a couple of listens to grab hold, but Ray Wilson’s consummate lyricism, richly intoned vocals and the breadth and depth of the emotional vista he manages to traverse makes the experience all the more worthwhile.
91 Old Book On The Shelf
02 Over My Dead Body
03 Cold Light of Day
04 Song For A Friend
05 How Long Is Too Long
06 Not Long Till Springtime
07 Backseat Driving
08 Parallel Souls
09 Tried And Failed
10 High Hopes
Label: Jaggy D Records