Ex-London emigrée, Rupert Wates, mesmerizes on tenth album outing.
Release Date: 4th December 2020
Label: Bite Music
Formats: CD / Digital
Rupert Wates signed a publishing deal with Eaton Music (London) in 1994 and has been a full-time songwriter ever since. That statement from the press pack for this, his tenth solo album, sets the expectations of maturity that Lamentations not only lives up to but exceeds. What it doesn’t prepare you for is the masterful guitar playing that, combined with Rupert’s rich, versatile, yet often vulnerable voice makes listening to this album an absolute pleasure.
Rupert Wates was born in London but, since 2007, has been based in the USA. Over the years, he has been the recipient of numerous songwriting and performing awards and has established a solid reputation for his lyrics, his vocal delivery and particularly for his mesmerizing skills on the acoustic guitar.
Lamentations was recorded in a single evening and it features nothing more than Rupert’s voice and guitar and that really is all it needs! The album is crammed with lovely, melodic, introspective songs and it’s the perfect accompaniment for an evening of quiet contemplation. Whilst there are themes of love and parting throughout the album, none of the songs are really about anything much but that’s not the point. The point is that voice and guitar blend deliciously to provide a listening experience that just grows and grows.
Rupert’s songwriting and performance seem to be possessed by the ghost of Nick Drake. As I listened, there were several moments when I thought I must have slipped an extended copy of Five Leaves Left into the CD player, particularly during In Time of Breaking, From Where You Are, Many Miles to Morning and on the exquisite title track. But whilst Nick Drake’s influence may provide the foundations to some songs, Rupert uses his skill and vocal versatility to take the music to where he wants it and succeeds impressively, particularly when he takes the opportunity to use a song to showcase his guitar magic.
Opening track, The Carnival Waltz is a fairly low-key start. It’s a pleasant song with thoughtful, metaphorical lyrics sung to the accompaniment of a softly picked guitar which gives no indication of the digital gymnastics to come. Those digital gymnastics start to emerge on Waiting For A Friend. On In Time Of Breaking, Rupert adds a taste of his impressive vocal range and we’re up and running.
California One is a beautiful song, with evocative lyrics that reference sweet wine, endless sun and breaking waves (so welcome on a wet October afternoon in the middle of England!) and then things really get warm on From Where You Are and Many Miles To Morning, both of which are laced with that wonderful guitar work. Don’t Leave Me Now has an eastern European feel – sad and somehow ominous – and contains a growing sense of drama as the song speeds up to reflect the singer’s desperation.
The title track, Lamentations, is certainly one of the album’s outstanding tracks and Rupert stretches out to deliver some tumbling, acrobatic, invigorating guitar passages. Great stuff!
The album approaches its close with Farewell And Adieu, a laid-back song of contented parting before I’ll Never Tire of Looking (In Your Eyes) which is a short, vigorous love song with more tasty guitar work brings things to a conclusion. Lamentations is a thoroughly enjoyable album from a mature, accomplished musician that will appeal to any lover of well-constructed singer/songwriter material, and to anyone who appreciates mastery of the acoustic guitar.
Watch the video for Rupert Wates’ Lamentations – the album’s title track – here: