Everything about Will Stratton feels entirely natural. New album ‘Rosewood Almanac’ has that wistful air of watching the world go past, a record that moves at its own distinct, un-rushed pace.
Wonderfully fresh folk-hewn songwriting with Americana overtones, the guitar work sits between Steve Gunn and Bert Jansch, while the songwriting itself has that honeyed feel of prime Iron & Wine all sluiced through a highly individual viewpoint.
Opening cut ‘Light Blue’ purrs on “all the knowledge that I’ve never seen” while Will’s repeated acoustic phrasing is offset by bursts of exultant electric guitar.
‘Vanishing Class’ is a desolate acoustic showcase, with the inner determination of the lyric set against a subtle arrangement as broad strings rise up underneath that softly devastating vocal.
‘I See You’ opens as a solo piece, with Will Stratton’s vocal placed naked against the fluttering guitar chords. Gradually, though, the full arrangement comes into view, blossoming as female vocals emerge from the distance “with the dreams you choose to keep”.
‘Manzanita’ is perhaps the most direct, fully-fledged example of the American songwriter’s artistry. The dangling flashes of guitar build superbly, the broadening intensity matched to one of the album’s finest, most heartfelt lyrics. The pounding piano works against the rolling drums, a breathless Will Stratton intoning: “I love the way that we grow old…”
‘Rosewood Almanac’ is a record that allows things to simply be, that absorbs life at a natural pace. It’s subtle, unhurried, and something to relax into – a glass of wine at the end of a long day, or a blast of cool air on a piping hot day.
In short, it’s a low-key gem.
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