Having been thickly taken with the singles Warm Hands and Occupy This Space recently, there was an eagerness to go check out the latest album from UK outfit Davey Woodward & The Winter Orphans from whence they came. Fair to say it has not disappointed, a release embracing all the captivating essences of those two tracks and echoing them across eleven individually enthralling encounters.
Fair to say there was an instinctive intrigue and want to explore Woodward’s latest adventure just from a love of one of his earlier bands, The Brilliant Corners; their debut track She’s Got Fever one of our all-time favourite introductions to an artist. Similar success and acclaim followed with later outfits in The Experimental Pop Band and Karen, and now brewing nicely for the Bristol songwriter’s solo outings especially those with kindred spirits, The Winter Orphans. Their second album, Love and Optimism is a collection of songs nurtured in indie jangles and warm pop infection with at times breezes of post punk discord and animated pop rock intensity adding to its eclectic character. At their hearts though is the original breath and constant character of their creator and an intimacy borne of his personal experiences and the city he so proudly resides in. It all made for a release which constantly surprised and persistently gripped whilst tapping into one’s own thoughts and adventures.
With lead guitarist Julian Hunt, bassist Johnathan Bewley, drummer Steve Dew, violinist Phil Walker and Harry Furnace on trumpet /cornet making up The Winter Orphans alongside, Woodward instantly had ears and appetite aroused with album opener Bad Day. Instantly quirk lit grooves wrap ears across just as inviting rhythms, equally courteous riffs escorting the distinctive tones of Woodward. Infection soaks every strand of its presence, the outstanding track under the skin with viral persistence as too the slight Pixies-esque hue within its merciless temptation.
Hard follows and though calm against the urgency of the previous rocker provides its own catchy coaxing within its mellow swing. Heartfelt within melodic captivation, the song is a minimalistic yet thickly persuasive and emotive encounter which as the first gripped eager attention before Aliens unveiled its warm, almost fiery seduction. With a singed harmonica fronting equally heated brass amidst the melodic enticement of guitars, the track quickly strolled into the passions, matching its predecessor on captivation and contagion.
From its initial shimmer, next up Warm Hands bewitched, shadows bounding its beauty and enriching its crepuscular air without defusing an organic radiance which continues to swell and glisten within its noir kissed drama. As with those before it there is also natural catchiness which builds by the second into a controlled but rousing crescendo as Woodward’s more tempestuous rock instincts catch light.
The pair of Northern Slopes and Brothers and Sisters adds to the varied landscape of the album, the first a mellow but again lively suggestion, in word and sound, of inner emotion and reflection one fuelled by joy. The second of the two, is an infectious slice of pop ‘n’ roll cast energy and enterprise, a song driven by tenacious rhythms and melodic exuberance teased with eighties indie pop recalling its creator’s earlier days; a track sharing favourite album moment with the opener.
The sultry temptation of Occupy This Space allows things to calm a touch though the rich tempting is as keen in a song which serenades the senses like an aureate sunset. Vocally and lyrically Woodward pours out his emotive intimation, the aligning brass an echo of his heart while a more incandescent air sweeps in within the sensitively woven and equally open hearted reminiscence of The Mall. It too has a natural infection breeding swing, something veining all tracks in varying degrees and design, which is impossible to ignore.
The album’s title track, if without quite lighting the passions as those before it, proved an emotive magnet for ears with While Soldiers Sleep similarly hugging matching attention with its open heart. Both revel in the songwriting and creative craft of Woodward and the band before Clara’s Ghost nestled firmly in the imagination with its fusion of rhythmic shuffling, folk lilted melodic depiction, and atmospheric haunting.
The song proved irresistible, a sublime end to an ear tempting, pleasure stoking release. Love and Optimism is a record which unites with inner shadows and provokes adventures bound in the elements of its title. A pleasure everyone should contemplate.
Love and Optimism is out now via A Turntable Friend Records; available @https://daveywoodward.bandcamp.com/album/love-and-optimism
Pete RingMaster 18/01/2021