Wilson & Wakeman: Delicate Vigor

wilson and wakeman
Not in the least what I expected, but absolutely what I needed.

Being a rather huge (gargantuan?) admirer of Damian Wilson–especially his work with Arjen Lucassen–and, most especially, in his [headspace] collaboration with Adam Wakeman (another favorite), I eagerly preordered and helped crowd fund the new Wilson & Wakeman album, “The Sun Will Dance In Its Twilight Hour.”

The CD landed on my doorstep from Germany last week.  With Wilson, Wakeman, and such a Crimson-esque title, I was expecting a scorching experimental prog metal masterpiece of galactic proportions.

The last thing I expected was what I actually received, an album that sounds as though it could have been written, at various points, by Paul Simon, Seals and Crofts, or Natalie Merchant.  I’m not in any way suggesting that Wilson & Wakeman advertised falsely.  Frankly, I’m sure I just missed some memo, here or there.  It wouldn’t be the first time my 50-year old spaciness got the best of me.  Additionally, Wilson & Wakeman are each too earnest to be deceptive.

And, that’s the best place to start an actual review of this rather beautiful album.  The album is raw, earnest, sincere, heartfelt, and, from a prog perspective, absolutely minimalist.  Vocals and piano dominate this album, with only the odd strings, backup vocals, and drums coming in from time to time.

Wilson’s vocals are as brilliant as ever.  Indeed, I’ve never heard him so clearly, as he’s not competing with screaming metal flourishes around him.

I am curious why Wakeman is worth more than Wilson, but I suppose some things must always remain mysteries in this crazy whirligig we call life.

The album feels, overall, as though Wilson & Wakeman are sitting in my living room, jamming on my piano, each of us with just a couple of beers, best buds hanging out and talking about the best of the world.

Comparing this album, say, with Wilson’s lyrics on Threshold’s frantic apocalyptic and libertarian MARCH OF PROGRESS, he seems utterly and unrelentingly joyful and optimistic.  This latest album begins with a tribute to the right stuff and American heroics, reaches its climax by calling on us to find the better angels of our nature, and ends with plea to let our fears flee from our souls.  Along the way, we’re treated to stories about battle, about outdoor explorations with our father, and about our neglect of the beautiful and miraculous that surrounds us every day.

So, while I was not in the least expecting what this album turned out to be, I feel as thought I’ve been uniquely bestowed with a rare and precious thing, an intimate gift of unbounded possibilities.  There’s no doubt that the album brightens my outlook on life considerably.  Given all the hell that’s been loosed upon the world over the last several years, such a gift is incalculable.


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