Michael Weston King – The Struggle (album 2022). Norsk versjon her.
Michael Weston King’s new album, «The Struggle» has been the album I’ve been going to for the last few weeks, an album there for me when I have not been ready for other music. Michael Weston King is part of the highly acclaimed country duo My Darling Clementine, and it has been ten years since his last solo album.
«The Struggle» was recorded in rural Wales in a small studio with multi-instrumentalist Clovis Phillips. Among the guest musicians we find Steve Nieve, Jeb Loy Nichols, jazz trombonist Barnaby Dickinson, wife and partner in My Darling Clementine, Lou Dalgleish, and daughter Mabel Dalgleish-King on flute. The album is a singer-songwriter / folk album and is said to be inspired by, among others, old favourites of mine such as Mickey Newbury, Jesse Winchester and John Prine. So if I for once write about a British artist, many of the sources of inspiration are American. Michael sings beautifully and his voice reminds me of Jesse Winchester.
This has become an album with great lyrics, great songs and production from the beginning to the end. That said, the latest song is an alternative version of the opening song «Weight Of The World», about a disillusioned Trump sympathizer. Great guitars and other spices!
Two of the many favorites on the album are «The Hardest Thing» and the subsequent «Just Another Dying Day», beautiful and thought-provoking songs about depression and how tough it can be to face the day when your mind is struggling.
«When the hardest thing of all
Is just getting out of bed
And the sun that’s streaming in
Only lights a darkness in your head
And you’ve got nowhere to go
So you roll over and you stay
Beneath a blanket of sorrow»
«The Final Reel» has flutes, and the song sends thoughts in the direction of Ireland, while the lyrics make me think of the late Scottish artist, Jackie Leven:
«Now the trumpets have all faded out
And the final reel has been shown
You taught me the ways of the drinking man
Now I must drink alone
But I’ll play the halls we knew so well
And I’ll sing the songs we cried
Until I join you in the devil’s choir
Your voice will never die»
And Michael’s late friend, Jackie Leven, is the man behind the lyrics to another great song. Michael has in fact set a melody to handwritten lyrics by Jackie which he recently received from a mutual friend. The song is called «Theory Of Truthmaker» and is also to be heard on an album that was released last year where many artists make their versions of Leven’s songs.
«Sugar» is a song about addiction and another song Michael has made with others, this time the American artist Peter Case. Yes, there are even more. All songs are equally tastefully produced, all full of meaning. Nostalgic and a bit «The Old Soft Shoe» hints at Gram Parsons «The New Soft Shoe», Me And Frank» is perhaps a relative of Bruce Springsteen’s «Highway Patrolman».
«Valerie’s Coming Home»is about reconciling with death. No, Valerie does not come home anymore, as she always has. Beautiful melody, beautifully delivered by Michael. Listen to the trombone!
Overall, this has become a brilliant collection of well-produced songs with meaningful lyrics. Right in the middle of my street. Lots to think about and reflect upon at different stages in life, but also for comfort and food for the soul, if you need. In a volatile world, this can be a record you take with you as you go on. 8.5 / 10.