Will Varley has returned with his new album, The Hole Around My Head. This album is his first since the 2018 release of Spirit Of Minnie, and also the first to be released on Yellow Cake, a new record label and artist protection entity set up by well known record producer Cameron McVey, who also produced Spirit Of Minnie. Originally due for release on October 15, The Hole Around My Head, had to be put back due to ongoing manufacturing and shipping delays. The digital, CD and black vinyl release will now be on October 22. The red and transparent vinyl version is pushed back until December 3rd. So lets find out if it is going to be worth the wait!
While most of us spent lockdown scared and confused about what was happening, (or in my case, binging boxsets, true crime, music, food, having video calls with folk that I don’t even really like, just to have some company, and just generally living in an anxiety riddled bubble) Will decided instead, to be productive with his time and switched off from the outside world, and got stuck into what he does best…making music with stories to be told. Having spent so much time on the road over the last 8 years, he suddenly found himself at home a lot, with lots more time on his hands. He wandered around his house picking up various instruments and entered his makeshift studio in his home on the Kent coast, often sending McVey his work through the middle of the night, patiently waiting on feedback from him in the morning. Will:
“I would work through the night, and often I felt like the only person awake in the whole town. I would send the sessions to Cam in the early hours of the morning, and he’d give me feedback on them the next day.”.
I’ve been a big Will Varley fan for a few years now and couldn’t wait to get straight into the albums opening track ‘Somers Town’, my immediate thoughts being that this wouldn’t be out of place in a movie. It’s a very visual track which allows for all sorts of scenarios to develop in your mind as you listen. It’s dark, with the piano tone gently piercing through which helps set the sombre tone. The track gently builds in a desperate way as he seeks his lover. It’s almost like an early Mumford & Sons song, it wouldn’t be out of place on their album list.
‘Pushing Against Us’, the second single to be released, feels like Will is reaching out to us and asking us to listen. Will says:
“Pushing Against Us, and really the whole album is about overcoming entropy, and the will of human beings to push on and create order and patterns in the madness and chaos of our existence. It’s about our stubbornness, our distractions and the minutiae of our everyday lives vs. the sheer vastness of the universe around us and our staggering ignorance.”
It’s a song of hope for better days and a reminder to look for those rainbows in the stormy times because even when it seems that everything fights against us, we as human beings stand up and fight back. Whether its against the pandemic, climate change, terrorism, mother nature herself, we will come together and fight back for change to happen. We will push against these things. It’s a very moving track that every time you listen, you take something different away from it. My son was also impressed to hear Kepler-22b being mentioned. He is big into astronomy and explained to me that it is the first exoplanet in the habitable zone of it’s star that the Kepler Space Telescope found in 2011. It’s likely to be a water world which might be capable of supporting life. It’s twice as big as earth and is 600 light years away. So interesting!
‘Candles For The Dead’, is beautiful. It is a very melancholy track with a gruffness in the melodic magic, the clear guitar strumming is the backbone of this track and carries the tune like a heavy cross. As I listened to this song, I could imagine a picture book of my life flickering in my mind as it played, and also in the track , ‘Her Own Private Universe’. The title of this track grabbed me even before I listened to it, being in my own private universe most of the time, I was getting early Bruce Springsteen vibes, albeit with it’s own individual twist. Again, the gruff vocals pierce through the clean guitar strumming. This one conjures up an innocent love story between two teenagers with a life full of hopes and dreams…a seasonal timeline of traveling hearts.
Will often gets referred to as a folk singer, but he is much more than that. He takes a bit of a change of direction on this album, but still retains that amazing ability he has to tell us stories, stories we might not even have heard before. Whenever I listen to a Will Varley album I usually learn something new, such as in the track, ‘The Man Who Fell From Earth’ from his 2015 album Postcards From Ursa Major. The track is about the real story of a man who fell from a landing airplane in 2013. The sad thing was that the man died on his birthday, and the reason he was on the plane was that he searched for a better life. I had never heard about this before and after hearing it I had to research it. This is what I love about Wills song writing, it encourages me to want to look deeper into the stories behind his lyrics and on this album he has even brought my son and I together to learn more about Kepler 22b.
This album, like his previous work, is extremely thought provoking. The use of clean guitar strumming, gruff vocals and a lack of drums create an atmospheric impact on the listener and you’ll definitely find your self in a bubble of thought for the evening! The Hole Around My Head has Will speaking up for us all and giving a voice to those that aren’t or can’t be heard! Fantastic lyrics and melodies that you can really feel, sometimes kicking us right in the gut but Mr Varley is, in my opinion, one of the best lyricists we will see in our generation!
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