NME 50 BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR SO FAR
'This long player is a sampler woven from many strands but the unifying influence
(claimed by many deserved by few) is that of Big Star'
This then is Warren grappling with the American greats, and when country is in the mix,
he easily comes out on top
Warren has struck Gold. He has a genuine belief in the redemptive power of rock music,
taking in gospel, protest folk and country soul. It feels like Alex Chilton
passed through the studio on his way out of this world.
'This utterly intriguing and mesmerising album from Richard Warren came totally out of the
blue, and while there was an immediate recognition of some of the influences,and
touchstones being worked from, it took a few listens to latch on to how good it really is'.
BUCKETFUL OF BRAINS
Lament n. 1. a passionate expression of grief. 2. a song of sorrow, regret or mourning.
Venerated musician, songwriter and producer Richard Warren finally emerges from the shadows to deliver his emotionally raw debut solo album, Laments. After spending a five-year sabbatical touring the globe as a key player with a host of renowned artists, most notably with the Space Rock behemoth that is Spiritualized, it transpires that this was also an amazingly productive song writing period for Richard Warren.
Whittled down from over thirty songs to the unforgettable eleven featured here, Laments resembles nothing less than a compelling compilation of 'greatest hits', comprised of timeless songs that were never released. Though the oldest song in the set, the wistful rocker 'Nature Boy', was completed five years ago and the most recent track, an explosive dirge-blues 'The Devil's My Shepherd' was executed only recently, Laments is a cohesive whole, a thematically linked classic record that flows effortlessly from beginning to end. " That metaphorical song (The Devil's My Shepherd) is about taking a wrong path," admits an animated Warren, evidently pleased to be discussing his finished album. “I realised I'd reached the point where I could write about certain subjects I couldn't honestly articulate before. It’s only the passing of time that can do that."
From the beautiful country ballad 'How Could You Be So Blind', through the soulful 'It's A Crying Shame', the mournful blues of 'No Companion Like Solitude', the haunting existential post punk flavoured' No Angel' (the first single to be released from Laments) and the stirring heretical song 'Brother Mary’; Warren's compositions cover a myriad of musical genres, from buzz saw 60's psychedelic rock to gentle southern soul.
During certain passages of Laments, Richard Warren’s musical inspirations shine through. Big Star main man Alex Chilton is one such iconic figure who springs readily to mind. Surely it is no accident that the stark monotone photograph of Warren adorning Laments’ sleeve, taken by friend and label-mate, Tenebrous Liars' Steve Gullick, bares a striking resemblance to a celebrated rainy night picture of Chilton in his prime.
“I’m pretty obsessive,' Warren freely declares. "The recording process for me is a labour of love; I strive to make warm, fuzzy music in the largely uninspiring, cold digital medium that rock music seems to have become. I like tape rolling, valves burning, needles moving in VU meters. It's a physical thing. Recording used to be heavy industry. The future seems all a bit virtual, lightweight, a bit pretend."
The uncompromising independent label TV Records are issuing Laments as a vinyl release, with a CD edition contained inside the sleeve. "I still always compile track running orders with the thought to Side One and Side Two, even if just for a CD" confesses Warren. "You get used to a way of working I suppose. A couple of years ago I got into editing my songs. So much so it changed the way I write now."
These songs are the first to reflect that new way of working for Warren. "I used to put the tunes together really quickly, then labour over the recording. It's took me years to realise I was doing it the wrong way round, the secret is write, rewrite… and rewrite the rewrite, before even thinking about the studio. I would never underestimate the power of a great performance but usually if there's any magic in a song it's written into the fabric of the basic structure of the chords and the lyric."
Arguably, the song on Laments that best illustrates Richard Warren's unswerving commitment and dedication to his craft is his fervent contemporary folk song, 'Black Stone Empires'. Perhaps echoing the sentiments once expressed by Woody Guthrie, Warren sings the praises of his favourite, empowering possession; " This machine that I carry, this wood and this steel, Means more to me than you could believe."
You better believe in Richard Warren and listen to his Laments from the heart. The bittersweet Laments is the very essence of the man and his music.