From the ashes of the much-missed Wilson Minds, the Verve-esque opulent pop of Paul Wilkes’ latest project is infinitely more than a consolation, Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke charts a successful return to the spotlight.
The problem with a breakout band’s approach toward a sophisticated sound is often a mere lack of resources. However colossal in scope the grand ambitions of a young auteur might be, the very nature of establishing that crucial first foothold lends itself intrinsically to scrappiness where energy must take to the fold where elegance cannot.
It’s for precisely this reason that the latest new music from fast-rising Paul Wilkes can feel like something of a wrong-foot – his new EP River Running With Me sounding lush, fully-formed and decorous, laden with captivating sweeps of texture and the kind of empassioned cool thought sunk with The Verve‘s protracted demise.
Unsurprising, then, that to treat Wilkes and his backers as an entirely ‘new’ outfit is slightly deceptive, the project in fact being a continuation of sorts from the singer-songwriter’s sadly defunct (and rather underlooked) former three-piece Wilson Minds.
With bandmates James Brogan and Carl Brightman still on board, it’s an evolution of style that’s taken the former outfit’s poised, charismatic slow-blues swagger and infused it with mountainous musical breadth, courtesy of luscious, seizing strings and opulent, rich piano.
However grandiose his instrumentals, however, it’s always Wilkes who spearheads the song with a vocal that’s both candid and smooth, yet undercut with the same sense of loucheness that kept Richard Ashcroft on a vastly higher plain to his faux-orchestral drove of followers.
It’s the flourishing, abundant title track that’s the undoubted peak of the record, yet all four tracks have something to offer – the entirely acoustic Last Wish infused with a deft degree of plaintive transience, Bluebird a piano-led ballad of imperious mastery. In short, it’s a hugely impressive quarter of an hour, one that doesn’t just imitate the Hawley/Ashcroft formula but seizes upon it for an offering of enthralling eminence.
Wilkes and co. will also be taking their spectacular sonics to the stage over the proceeding months – their first outing at Zanzibar this February 14 most certainly not one to be missed.