Artist – Paul Wilkes
EP – River Running With Me
Release date – 19th January 2015
Reviewer – Alan O’Hare
Listen on Soundcloud
Paul Wilkes has been around for a long time. One of his first tunes, the delicately bruised ‘Rihanna’, still occupies a space in the file marked ‘great lost songs’ of the last decade. Indeed, this writer even remembers where he was when he first heard it: a wonderful Wilkes gig at the View Two Gallery, back in 2008. Since then, the Merseyside songwriter has existed on the periphery. His rock and roll band Wilson Minds created ripples and disappeared, but Wilkes’ heart never really appeared to be in such rabble rousing. Subtle laments are his stock in trade – and this latest EP contains four belters from that category.
There have always been comparisons with Richard Ashcroft – indeed, Wilkes has been produced by ex-Verve and Ashcroft knob twiddler, Chris Potter, for a while now – but other influences are at work on ‘River Running With Me’. The piano balladry of ‘Bluebird’ sounds like the Americana favoured by Elton John in his early pomp, while the strings-assisted (Wilkes worked with Laura McKinley on the lush orchestration) title track hints at Elbow at their most anthemic. It’s beautiful.
The Merseysider’s rich voice sounds at its best when laid bare, like on the northern son soul of ‘Last Wish’, while the production on the brushed-drum driven ‘Alive With You’ brings those Ashcroft comparisons front and centre again (it could have floated on any of Mad Richard’s first three solo records). A little more grit, perhaps, and all those people who buy Richard Hawley or I Am Kloot albums might come on onboard Wilkes’ boat. But this is certainly a songwriter who has arrived at the sound he hears in his head. Maybe this river has always been running alongside him…
Paul Wilkes will be headlining Liverpool Acoustic Live at the View Two Gallery on Mathew Street on Friday 27th March 2015. Tickets are £5.00 (plus 50p booking fee) in advance from wegottickets.com/liverpoolacoustic and £6.00 on the door.
BONUS – Read the Getintothis feature on Paul Wilkes here.
© 2015 Alan O’Hare – Liverpool Acoustic
website – pourtousrecords.tumblr.com
facebook – facebook.com/wilsonminds
twitter – twitter.com/pwilkesmusic
EP review: Paul Wilkes – River Running With Me
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