Will Varley pulls up a chair for Spirit of Minnie

Spirit of MinnieWill Varley’s come a long way since the open mic London evenings of the early 00s - quite literally. Forget tour buses and first class flights; when Varley hits the road, he does so on his own two feet. He once walked almost 500 miles after the release of Spirit of Minnie, travelling the south coast as part of his aptly named The Rambling Tour, playing an impressive 24 venues along the way and clearly picking up an army of fans (and probably a few blisters) along the way. Soon afterwards, he sold out London’s Bush Hall, which has seen more than its fair share of great artists perform (Adele, Kings of Leon and Paul Weller to name a few).

Never one to rest on his laurels, he released albums in 2015 and 2016; barely into 2018 and Varley is at it again, announcing Spirit of Minnie, his fifth studio album. Produced by Cameron McVey, who's worked with Massive Attack and Neneh Cherry, this is the first album he’s recorded with a band. Of course, a tour is booked in support of his latest offering, but Varley’s not your everyday artist. Clearly a great lover of the challenge, he’s also playing his biggest headline show to date at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, on the very same day as the album is released; giving very little time for his fans to get to grips with his new record. What a guy.

So, is Spirit of Minnie any good? Well, first thing's first, it’s great to hear Varley play with a band. Previous recordings are hugely acoustic, with subtle instrumentation, which of course is wonderful to the country folk heart. But can you imagine a world where Dylan never went electric?

It’s the sombre reflective minor chords that bring the band to life as Varley tries to make sense of his own with opening track “All Those Stars”. There’s a little more optimism on “Seven Days” after which, “Screenplay” is a beautiful love torn ballad that has Varley confessing, “We’ve been here before, crossing this bridge, the same conversation just a little less pissed, its just the days passing us by, and we will all write screenplays in the sky.

“Let It Slide” sways and roars like a drunken sea shanty and although slightly downbeat you feel great hope in Varley’s voice; it’s also the rare treat that offers some harmony on the chorus. And it's not long before your getting the creeps with final track “Insect”.

Spirit of Minnie is an achingly beautiful record that keeps instrumentation subtle and all that’s left is to get lost in Varley’s voice. He tends to tell you his problems poetically and usually with a drink nearby; then provides a solution with a delightfully optimistic chorus and if he can’t give you hope, he’ll give you a booze-filled melancholy slap round the face.

Release: 9th February 2018, Xtra Mile Recordings

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One Response to “Will Varley pulls up a chair for Spirit of Minnie”

  1. The Stranger In Disguise 13/02/2018 at 9:08 pm #

    Agree Will Varley made a step up with Spirit Of Minnie. It’s great to hear him with band, but must say earlier albums like Kingsdown Sundown make me feel closer to his lyrics and storytelling. It’s two different worlds, I guess he got lonely touring alone. Both works well.

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