By Marty Mulrooney
WIlson T. King may not be an artist that large amounts of music followers, specifically guitar fans, have heard of quite yet. At least, not loudly enough for my liking. But he’s getting there and I think that is all set to change. Coming from a background of being the chief writer and producer in numerous English indie bands, King has played the Blues for most of his life. His mission to share this often neglected genre with us in his debut album is a noble one. Luckily, he also has the guitar skills to see this vision through. Whether you are a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck or Joe Bonamassa, you won’t want to miss Follow Your First Mind.
When my review copy of this album arrived from Manhattan last week, I instinctively knew this was going to be a very personal body of work. It was immediately evident, from the handwritten-style track listing on the back of the case, to the lovingly written interior notes. This is a very personal album.
Recorded both in Manhattan and the deep English countryside, the album starts as it means to go on. ‘The Light Behind The Sun’ is a powerful opening track, immediately cementing King as an accomplished guitarist, capable of some surprisingly solid vocals to boot. Crunching bass flows beneath a voice admittedly reserved yet constantly at one with the powerful guitar licks that he blasts out, always keeping time with the utterly relentless beat of the drums. Combined, it amounts to something shockingly cut back, yet starkly refreshing.
Yet things really kick up a gear when the next two songs, ‘Vigilante Man’ and ‘Hurricane’ begin to play. Like hidden tracks from a Robert Rodríguez film soundtrack, these are undeniably the highlights of the whole album, with ‘Hurricane’ in particular offering not only hauntingly sweet lyrics, but a superb guitar solo the likes of which we hear far too little of these days. A band called ‘Tito And Tarantula’ were often featured in Rodríguez’s films, and there is an undeniable swipe of their lone-ranger-style brooding here. Mr Rodríguez, if you ever read this, please check out Mr King’s music. It would be a perfect audio accompaniment if you ever decided to expand your ‘Mexico Trilogy.’ In fact, this music would work fantastically with practically any dramatic film, due to the cinematic quality of its storytelling.
Later tracks never quite match this rich double whammy of guitar playing bliss, but they certainly aren’t too far behind either. ‘Albert’ in particular is a pleasure to listen to because it is just so natural in style and tone: King was born to do this and never seems to force the notes, which adds to the musicianship of his performances time after time. It would be far too easy to simply draw comparisons with Hendrix or Clapton and be done with it. But perhaps this would be to entirely miss the point. He can stand proudly next to these guitar greats, but make no mistake, he is never in their shadow.
King’s infectious passion for the Blues are fused into each and every track. This may potentially alienate the guitar fans out there who strictly prefer rock music, but I find it hard to imagine many guitar fans being disappointed. Still, at 33 minutes, Follow Your First Mind can sometimes feel frustratingly brief. Yet there are moments of genius here that bode rather well for the future of this artist, and I therefore think it is worth being here at the beginning with him all the same. He has the guitar, he has the voice and let’s be honest, he even has the name. A debut to be proud of, echoing the past whilst always managing to sound refreshingly contemporary.
8 OUT OF 10
AMO will also be interviewing Wilson T. King soon so stay tuned!