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Davey Woodward and the WInter Orphans - Mystic Science

  by Dixie Ernill

published: 26 / 5 / 2023

Davey Woodward and the WInter Orphans - Mystic Science
Label: Last Night from Glasgow
Format: LP


Evocative and throught-provoking second album from former Brilliant Corners frontman Davey Woodward and his current band The Winter Orphans

It was always going to be a tough ask to try and equal or better their 2020 album, ‘Love and Optimism’, but with Davey Woodward’s song writing skills showing no signs of waning despite being in his fifth decade of making music, the band have near as damn done it. New album ‘Mystic Science’, just released on the hip Scottish label Last Night From Glasgow, embraces Woodward’s happy knack of transforming a mixture of grainy memories of yesteryear, observed events and fictional people and situations into relatable vignettes set to beguiling yet often hummable scores that capture the imagination and prick the intrigue in a way that few artists outside of Cohen, Richman and Forster have managed. Opening the album with a slow song is a gamble but the achingly sad subject matter of ‘Victims’ and Woodward’s fragile vocal admitting “Can’t reach the stairs, let alone the stars” means it draws the listener nicely in. The much more upbeat, in tune if not lyric, ‘Everyone Recommends’, which has been a highlight of recent live shows follows and showcases the musical abilities of Woodward’s regular backing band as well as additional vocals from Charlotte Nicholls. ‘Hell’ keeps the pace up before ‘After Midnight’, a wonderful melancholic observation of the Xmas festivities that was released as a single last year in a tongue-in-cheek stab at the Christmas number one spot, takes the tempo down a little. A sleazy, snarling blues rock track in the shape ‘Call Me Satan’ highlights a different angle of the band and ‘So & So’ is a fine pop nugget about a has- been, that rounds off side A of the album in great style. Flip the record over and it’s more of the same strong fayre; ‘Confetti’ is augmented by the delightful cornet playing of former band member Harry Furness, lifting the gentle swell of the tune into something rather special. There’s always been a political aspect in Woodward’s work, often subtly interwoven into the tapestry of the lyrics, but on ‘Nationalists’ the message is very clear and befitting of such a strident song. If ‘Call Me Satan’ was a musical detour, then ‘Blue Mink’ is positively off road as the band veer into Ska territory for one of the real stand out moments on the album. No doubt Terry Hall will be looking down with a smile. Next up is ‘3 Nights’ which has been kicking around the live set for a few years now and is a welcome addition to this record having missed out on the previous one. A sobering tale of an often absent father vowing to improve, with a lovely tune enhanced by the harmonica. ‘Black Dog’ deals with the pressures of depression and despite the heavy subject matter the taut music around it makes it a quite brilliant track. Finally just when you think the storm clouds of life are closing in, the gentle strum of last track ‘Elevate’ arrives like the first licks of sunlight around the bedroom curtains as spring finally arrives. More than enough thought provoking lyrics to stimulate the mind and a good sprinkling of melody to make you want to skip across the kitchen floor whilst brewing the tea - another Woodward gem that will enhance your record collection. The band head off to Athens to play a festival there towards the end of May (2023) and I think the toughest task they will have is deciding which tracks to leave out of the set to accommodate some of their established favourites. A happy dilemma!

Track Listing:-
1 Victims
2 Everyone Recommends
3 Hell
4 After Midnight
5 Call Me Satan
6 So & So
7 Confetti
8 Nationalists
9 Blue Mink
10 3 Nights
11 Black Dog
12 Elevate

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