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Rupert Wates - For The People

  by Julie Cruickshank

published: 23 / 5 / 2022

Rupert Wates - For The People
Label: Bute Music
Format: CD


Enchanting album of original folk songs from US-based London guitarist and singer Rupert Wates.

Rupert Wates has been a star of the folk scene for nearly thirty years, releasing ten acclaimed albums along the way. His latest offering, ‘For the People’ is a lovely confection of beautifully-played guitar matched to lyrics mainly based on old English folk tales. Describing the album as “a love song to humanity”, Wates, although based in New York City since 2007, seems to channel through his songs a much-travelled troubadour now yearning for the England of his birth. The album opens with title track ‘For the People’, delicate guitar finger-picking creating aureoles of lovely sound winding around Wates’ mellow voice. ‘To the Sea’ has a tension like waves rising and falling, while the medley ‘All Fair Ladies/ Spanish Galleon’ employs a call/response with guest singers in the opening half (“Tell me if you can what I must bring a lady fair/For a lady’s love to win/Will she care for pomp and state/Ask and we will answer you”) echoing mediaeval courtly tradition. ‘The North Road’ introduces a change of tone, a dark and brooding tale of a man haunted by his murder of a drummer-boy: “There was thunder and lightning on the wild and windy moor/And the devil walked beside me all the way/Then I saw my Redeemer at the door of the inn/And I knew that he would come for me on my judgement day”. In ‘Oh Captain’ Wates sings the words of a mermaid imploring a sea-captain to weigh anchor, a siren-song drawing a ship to its doom. ‘Ullswater Cove’ showcases sublime guitar pierced with sobbing violin to illustrate a love story which ends in tragedy. ‘Thirty Thousand Guineas ( A Smuggler’s Tale)’ is followed by another medley, jumping ahead in time to World War One; ‘A Florin To The Beam/Hills of Blue Heather (The Nightingale’s Song)’, hope followed by sadness reflected in two contrasting soundscapes. ‘Justified’ calls very strongly to mind the vocal and guitar style of folk superstar Roy Harper, while ‘The Dance of Joy’ closes the album with life-affirming lyrics (“I asked them why danced they there/And this was their reply/Because we’re here because we’re here”). Indeed this wonderful album could say the same of Rupert Wates; letting us know through his lovely songs and impressive musicianship that he is still very much here.

Track Listing:-
1 For The People
2 To The Sea
3 Medley: All Fair Ladies/Spanish Galleon
4 The North Road
5 Oh Captain
6 Ullswater Cove
7 Thirty Thousand Guineas
8 World War One Medley: A Florin To The Beam/Hills Of Blue Heather
9 Justified
10 The Dance Of Joy

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