At long last a few new tunes from the talented Robin Warren-Adamson, aka, Wise Children. The Woods was released on Boxing Day 2011 (there is a level of perversity releasing new material then, surely) and free to download via his website, as well as being available through his Soundcloud site amongst other places. It has been a wait it must be said, but The Woods is a thing of real beauty.
I can scarcely believe that I first stumbled across Wise Children back in November 2008 with the initial eponymous EP, and I penned a few hurried words on these pages at the time (the dear fellow can’t have been long out of primary school. Don’t you hate the unholy combination of youth and talent?) . In April 2010 followed the Absence and Reunion EP. Both EP’s can be downloaded for free via the Bandcamp site (tho’ you would have to have a mean spirit not to cough up a few quid IMHO) and of course all can be streamed via Soundcloud.
Here we are another two years on and, given successfully completing his Masters and moving around a bit, perhaps we can look forward to a little more frequent output from Mr WA? Lets hope so, for here is something that deserves greater exposure and wider acclaim.
What draws me into all his songs is the clarity and simplicity, the lack of unnecessary over-dubs and general fiddling around, the honesty and directness. In a time when there seems to be a demand that everyone comes from Brooklyn, have some exotic connections or, in other ways, is from ‘somewhere else’, how refreshing it is to have something so unmistakably English. Mr WA’s vocals are as clear and crisp as glass, the instrumentation careful and supportive, everything with the same attention and deftness of touch.
The Woods has its moments of occasional electronic ‘colour’ but remains true to the spirit of high quality song-smithing and atmospheric delivery. Perhaps not as musically upbeat as some tracks on Absence and Reunion, The Woods feels introspective and personal, both qualities that I, for one, value.
Winter’s Wall is a gorgeous opening track and a great example of how adding a few extra layers has only enriched, not obscured. Both Sins and Compost manage to deal with a sense of wistfulness and regret but are delivered without any sense of mawkishness. Ironically, given its topic, Bed on A Ward is the most optimistic and rhythmic of the tracks here, followed immediately by Gold, a characteristic, almost signature sounding track.
Throughout there are deft harmonies, delicately wrought, and the proximity of the voice in the soundstage is central, demonstrating the attention to detail in the recording (even if it might have been done in bedrooms and spare rooms). Thanks is given via his Tumblr blog to all those involved in making The Woods,including Steve Bega who played bass throughout.
I am totally charmed and seduced by the fragility and musical purity across these (too) few tracks. There is sometimes a careful path to walk to achieve authenticity and honesty but you know, listening to Wise Children, that this is the real thing; it is personal, direct and deeply ‘felt’. That’s why it connects and resonates, that’s why it matters and stands apart from the bland and formulaic – I have no idea how you sustain that, but lets hope that Mr WA manages that trick of alchemy – taking the simple, elemental parts and turning them into gold.
Pic of Mr WA among the trees courtesy of Alex Board Photography
Winter’s Wall – Wise Children