Saturday 30 January 2016

M.G. Boulter - With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie

Article by KevW

The second album from M.G. Boulter sees him relocating from his home on the shores of the Thames to Sheffield and surrounding himself with a cast of talented musicians. 'With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie' is clearly the work of a man who has a masterful way with lyrics as well as an ear for a tune, and comparisons to greats are never far away. You can detect echoes of Bob Dylan in the way that words seem to flow effortlessly, as well as in a slightly similar vocal twang on occasion. Certain Van Morrison tracks also come to mind. Musical ground is shared with The Waterboys at some points too, but maybe the name that springs to mind the most is Paul Simon.

All of the above can be detected on opening track 'Sean Or Patrick' which details the life of a man drinking himself to death after losing everything, as well as apparently claiming to be the reincarnation of Ernest Hemingway. It's not the last time we've introduced to a character who appears doomed, but this album is far from bleak, and the lyrical dexterity and vibrant alt-folk and folk-rock sounds ensure that such subject matter is engaging and fascinating. 'The Sight Of The Cellar' talks of someone who claims to be born to raise hell and start "a fire in the souls of men" but "misfired somehow and ended up here again", while 'His Name Is Jean' is about a doting father, chain-smoking and mourning the fact his son has moved away. 'Carmel Oakes' talks of a man addicted to medication to anesthetise the pain of a life that didn't turn out the way it should have. 'Lalita' is another song of loss, this time of a man looking back on his youth and a Colombian girl who is now nothing but a memory.

Each song is a story, told with a way that could put many literary figures to shame. There's enough here to write a lengthy study on each track, and digging into the lyrics can be quite an emotional affair, which is a testament to the writing. What makes this album such a success is that the music matches, blending traditional storytelling from both sides of the Atlantic with a mixture of British folk and American country. This hybrid is found on the upbeat 'The Last Song', but again the subject is less jolly, detailing someone writing a song that they fear they may never finish as they "feel so old". Outcasts, loners and deadbeats pepper these tracks, as does the sea, both in its cleansing power and its destructive force ("I feel the weight of the ocean" - 'The Defeatist's Hymn', "When those mighty waves come forth to carry me home" - 'Someday The Waves').

In a way, 'With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie' is an album of escapism, but not in the usual sense. It talks of different characters and different times, but in a very human way. Growing old, missed opportunities, treading water until your wasted or destroyed life finally comes to an end; this might not be sunshine and happiness, but it's incredibly affecting. There are rays of hope too, perhaps most notably 'Love Trees' which is a love song that uses metaphors of acorns growing into oaks to talk about a relationship building, and resting "awhile in the shade of the leaves". The album closes in a suitably introspective and reflective way, with 'Let Light In' lamenting the past but looking forward, aching to find hope amongst the rubble. "And let the surf spray up/And wash me clean/And I will learn/To let light in". M.G. Boulter deserves the plaudits that this collection of songs will surely bring, but more than that, this album deserves to be widely heard. Should it get lost in the shadows it would be a crying shame.

M.G. Boulter's website

Buy: 'With Wolves the Lamb will Lie'

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