7 July 2017

William the Conqueror - Proud Disturber of the Peace

William the Conqueror is a name with a deep meaning in the UK, the name of the French man who captured England 1066 and change the law of the land.  It is also the name of an alternative rock/folk/hybrid three piece, they hail from the North coast of Cornwall, consisting of multi-instrumentalists Ruarri Joseph, Harry Harding and Naomi Holmes.  They have been causing waves around the UK and will shortly be heading out on the road around this sceptic isle with Danny & The Champions of the World during September of this year.  I love the title of this album, it speaks to the rebellious spirit that rests within my soul.  Who would not want to be proud when they are disturbing the peace in these messed up time?  So, how does this album sound?

01 – In My Dreams

With the wounded howl of a man in pain and drowning in sorrow, ‘In My Dreams’ starts off this album in fine form.  To be honest, it is in with a chance of being my opening track of the year for any album in 2017.  It is an apprehensive and solid country/rock number which has a dark noir tale of self-destruction, the vocals are hypnotic and the relentless pace of the music is stunning as well.  There is a mixture of style here, a little bit of post grunge, a little country, a lot of rock attitude and a confidence that cannot be measured.  It is unlike anything I have heard from this (or any other) genre in many moons, it is definitely one of the best piece of music in 2017, what a stunning opener.

02 – Tend to the Thorns

On ‘Tend to the Thorns’ William the Conqueror hit you hard with a romantic number that is once again straddling genres, it is post grunge with indie and country to the side.  It is an interesting number, one that wears its heart on its sleeve as it is wishing for an unrequited love to be acknowledged and reciprocated back.  It is a number that holds a lot of intrigues and beauty, it contains a depth that still holds mystery for me.

03 – Did You Wrong

You cannot go wrong adding a bit of blues to any tune, especially when it sounds as good as ‘Did You Wrong’.  It is a tale of broken promises and a failed relationship that is coming to a spectacular end.  It has a loose feeling to the music, with that broken relationship acting as the catalyst to this number that will have people dancing up and down the country once they hear it.   It is incredibly catchy and one of the best songs on this album.

04 – Pedestals

Everything is slowed down on ‘Pedestals’, it is a table about the rejection of attention, it is handled with a maturity that is not easily taught.  It is a sombre number, one that hits you with all the force of a breeze, but it feels heavy on the soul.  This is a strong song about a man who rejects acclaim, but is still needing to have some attention in a different way.  It is a contradiction, a strange number and one that I keep questioning.  It is definitely a beautiful song, but is it in the right place on the album?

05 – Sunny is the Style

You can hear the sound of Neil Young being invoked on this song, it is an acoustic driven song with a harmonica that once again has the sound of a mournful and wounded man crying in the night, which is in direct contrast to the title of the song.  It is a beautifully fragile number, one which has a reflective tone and a questioning existence.  I love the gentle title of song, it is a beautifully crafted number that helps the soul find comfort in dark times, another gem that I would have put elsewhere.

06 – The Many Faces of a Good Truth

I would describe ‘The Many Faces of a Good Truth’ as a Sunday Morning song, one that helps you ease into the day and face the world with a smile on your face.  It is a smooth song, one has horns in the right places, a slow style that works with any mood, a gentle solo that is anything but lazy and it all comes together to create one of the best songs of the album.

07 – Proud Disturber of the Peace

Oh, the sound is heavy on this one without the use of a distortion peddle, without the use of any other sort of alternative rock trick.  It has an outlaw swagger to the tone, the riff at the heart of this song is so simple, but so effective and the ending of the song builds into a towering number that just keeps giving on each repeated listen.  It improves and shows more of itself, making the hairs on my neck stand to attention every time.  Just one thing, this should have been the ending track of the record.

08 – Cold Ontario

‘Cold Ontario’ does have a cold feeling about it, one that feels as if the song was crafted on the ice roads of Canada during a dark winter day.  The song is a simple number, one that places a spotlight on the song writing capabilities of William the Conqueror and it brings the album back to basics, which is a good thing at times.  It is a brilliant number, one that could be played to any audience and it would receive a warm applause.  Sometimes you need solid, dependable numbers and ‘Cold Ontario’ fits that box perfectly.

09 – Mind Keeps Changing

The penultimate song of the album mixes country and blues, creating a number that will make everyone want to dance.  Another song that is brilliant as it keeps it simple and basic, that is the strength of this number.  It does not need to be making cartwheels in the mind, it does not need to be as complicated as Frank Zappa and Dream Theatre having a jam with Pink Floyd, Prince and Mozart.  It is a joyful song about the way someone keeps changing their mind, never settling on one discussion long enough for it to take effect and it is a great number.  It is one of a few on here which is in the right place as well, but more on that later.

10 – Manawatu

Now, I can sort of see why they have ended the album with ‘Manawatu’, it is a gentle number to send the crowd home and still keep them buzzing, if not over excited.  It is an emotive number that builds up from a gentle beginning to a glorious peak, something that sounds like a perfect ending track material, if it were not for 'Proud Distruber of the Peace'.  But if you put that to the side, what a song, what a beautiful and brilliant number that will speak to anyone who has nature in their hearts.  For me, it sounds like the wind as I stand on the banks of the River Tyne, but I can also hear the mighty hills of the Lake District in it as well, the fields of Yorkshire and the Highlands of Scotland.  It is a song that invokes thoughts of nature in me, which is always a sign of quality in my mind. I know that it has a different meaning, but that is what I took from it as it brings this album to a gentle ending.

I cannot lie, ‘Proud Disturber of the Peace’ is a fantastic album.  It is a hybrid record, one that crosses genres and it has a lot of love at its heart, albeit mostly unrequited or broken.  It has a number of styles in the mix here – I am hearing Dire Straits, I am hearing Neil Young, I am hearing country, alternative rock, post grunge, blues rock and folk.  For quite a simple album, there is so much going on, but overall, I am hearing a story telling band who are finding their collective voice.  Now, I have mentioned it every now and then on tracks, but this album (as good as it sounds) is not in the right order.  I know that the band might think differently, but for me the songs are out of place.  Track ordering is just as important as the songs themselves, opinions on them will differ, but it can make a lot of difference.  On ‘Proud Disturber of the Peace’, it is the only failing on an otherwise perfect record.  As it is just an opinion, it is not the biggest deal. This is mainly because the power of the songs is so strong that it is something I can (almost) over looked. Yes - I might be being predantic, taking a point off for that, it is still one of the best records I have heard in 2017.  Just for the amount of talent that is on display, if only it was in a slightly different order.

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost…...

Top track – In My Dreams

You can visit the William the Conqueror website here.

Proud Disturber of the Peace is not released until 4th August 2017, once it has been released I will add link to streaming sites here.

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