“Lost Boy Blues” by PROJECT WOLVERINE
Is it really only six months since we reviewed Project Wolverine’s debut album? Criminy, the enthusiasm of the young, eh? Well, he’s already back with a second CD in under a year – the mammoth 17-track, hour-long “Lost Boy Blues”.
Even in this short time-frame though, a step on from “Life, Love, Loss & Politics” has definitely been taken - as you’ll probably know if you’ve caught Proj W live recently (his set at the MADCAP Battle of the Bands was one of the best gigs by a local artist we’ve seen this year!). His songwriting is developing fast – there’s still reassuring dashes of his trademark pro-Labour anti-Murdoch rhetoric, but I’m more enthused (as always) by his more personal-sounding lyrics. Generally he’s sounding more confident, more comfortable with his voice and his music.
The recordings are occasionally scrappy-edged or raw – more akin to demos perhaps, but if you’re into the lo-fi, urgent sound of a live musician then it works fine. I enjoy it. During “Won’t See Us Again” he coughs while singing, laughs and at the end chuckles “leave it in, leave it in”. And at the start of the fragile “Broken Glass” he informs us “this is another miserable one, by the way”. I think I'd call it 'downbeat' rather than 'miserable'! ;-)
So this is an impressive album. You can’t argue with his prolificity (I wish I wrote half as many songs!), but 17 tracks is a lot to get through without too many changes in the musical soundscape. I’m tempted to wonder how some of these songs might sound with a full band, or at least some bass and percussion. I think the bouncy “Walls Come Down” and “Max’s Song” would be killer. I can almost hear cellos on “Two Months Ago”… but then I do tend to hear cellos everywhere! The mournful piano on the excellent “Socialism Is For Lovers” leads into a beautiful chorus melody, maybe some strings wouldn’t be overkill?
But having said that, there is a musical development too. Quite apart from the start of the chorus to “Socialism Is For Lovers”, the laid-back “Some Girl” has a lovely shimmery guitar melody. So a lengthy work it may be, but worth persevering with – especially as an accurate snapshot of the Project Wolverine live experience.
As I described in the last review though, it’s his lyrics I’m most into. “Snap Election” is the pick of the political ones – though “Organise” (a protest song about the possibility that Cameron’s Tories might get in!) is particularly poignant in hindsight*. There’s even love songs! (“Loves You More Than I”, “Two Months Ago” etc) “Max’s Song” is possibly the best song on the CD, though I’m also very much into the pessimistic piano ballad “Sonny Boy” - and find myself singing the chorus to myself as I potter round the flat today!
Well then... a definite step on from Project Wolverine, one of the city’s most unique songwriting voices. He’s off to University at the end of the Summer, so it’ll be intriguing to see which direction that ends up sending him in! In the meantime, try and catch him live in MK if you can!
* Though on his MySpace he’s already up to date – check out new track, the bitter “Coalition Blues”!