We Are The Willows’ second long-player starts sweetly enough, and retains that sense of lovable wonder for its entire duration. This six-piece, who flit between guitar and string sounds while interchanging vocal duties, produce pop-folk with a dash of classic. It’s full of charm and shows it well.
The concept of the record is family, love and other grand familiar topics that inspire people deeply. Centred around letters from the grandfather of one of the band’s members, sent to his wife during World War II, the source of inspiration is clearly a powerful one, and there are moments over the record that feel like uncovering gems of peace, of solitude, of grace and beauty. It possesses a real pop charm, whilst never becoming too commercial. It stays true to itself from the beginning to its end.
Some of the sweeping violin moments are stunning and uplifting, and possible highlights, but each song has more than enough magic, with the interplay of instruments and the playfulness of the vocals, the sense that the heart and soul of these guys is right here in the songs. It’s quite delightful, and makes the album one to play repeatedly. It certainly captures the sentiments the musicians had hoped to, naturally, and connecting with the past, the present, the audience and, of course, each other in the band.
If you must have a frame of reference, think of a slightly less charged and more relaxed Arcade Fire, one that veers more towards folk, with one of its ladies leading the vocal force. Give this band a chance as there is much here to get your teeth into, and it’s unlikely you would end up regretting that. A well conceived, constructed and created piece of music. Step into the World of the Willows. We Are The Willows are hopefully here to stay, and it’d be nice to hear a lot more from these guys in the future. It’s a strong release and indicates bags of potential too. Let’s hope they are just getting started.