Album Review

The Waterboys – All Souls Hill: Album Review

Once again we find inspiration and solace with The Waterboys.

Release date:   6th May 2022

Label:   Cooking Vinyl

Format:  CD / digital streaming

The number of times Mike Scott has decided to change musical tack are too numerous to count and with All Souls Hill he is sublimely on the move again. Another turn, another magical compendium of music of highest quality and imagination.

After the last three albums were seen as some form of trilogy Mike promised: “The next one will be quite different. It’s written already.”

What is also different is that he has collaborated on six of the 9 tracks written with  producer/writer Simon Dine. The Robbie Robertson song Once Were Brothers, also receives Mike’s magic touch as does the 1948 country classic Passing Through, which has been extended and given a gospel flavour. Both have been given extra lyrics too.

Musically he also collaborated with  Waterboys keyboard player James Hallawell supplying music for the Hollywood Blues – the lyrics as Mike Scott informs us were inspired by “Dennis Hopper’s long bacchanalia in the American southwest in the ‘70s”.

The opening title track has a very full sound and shows his keenness to challenge himself. However, his perceptiveness has not desterted him, as in this song and The Liar he attacks the untrustworthy leaders using their power and influence to seek their own greedy ends, corrupting those around them with no fear of the consequences on the populace.

The music is played as furiously as the lyrics are written yet his music can be as melodic and tranquil as it can be angry and Southern Moon is testament to this. Electronic tinges blend with succulent words. Worked from a musical idea by Simon he searched his bank of words to match. “Working with Simon, pushed me into different places to write things I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do,” Scott says and it was his recordings of the storming of Capitol Hill that have been added  onto The Liar, which makes sampling an experimental facet of Mike’s writing.

What we are familiar with, is his use of spoken words which on In My Dreams are full of his dream memories he had written down and found that they fitted the ‘dreamscape’ music from Simon Dine. “I’d write down dreams on waking, and extracted a score of ideas and sorted them into a song shape.  I included magical dreams – like when I can fly, or find a secret attic of forgotten things – plus awkward ones like when I turn up to play a show and there’s no gear.”

Blackberry Girl romps along showing his new found collaboration is both tight and  joyful. Once Were Brothers uses both spoken and melancholic vocals to express the sadness of  a broken relationship split by war. 

Waterboys fans have to be strong in keeping faith with their ever-changing hero but what never changes is  the meticulous production, inventiveness and quality musicians at their best. 

The song which began the collaboration, the stirring  Here We Go Again, expresses how globally socially and politically we seem to be waking up to the same old nightmares but there is no nightmare with Mike’s desire to move on and adapt. It may be worth remarking in the early 70’s when the world around us seemed to be crumbling, mass unemployment, cost of living crisis, political wars, music came to our rescue. Similarly now global upheaval has been a source an inspiration for much great music and solace and relief found in inventive, experimental and inspirational music. All Souls Hill is a perfect example of this.

Scott’s lyrics can be acerbic, insightful and personally revealing but always honest and meaningful and with his new found musical partner in Simon Dine the album should be a huge success and as he once asked Simon “ What next?” I hope we get what he replied -“More!

Waterboys: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Patreon

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2 replies »

  1. Just saw Mike and Brother Paul at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock tonight. Absolutely amazing.

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