Dead Flowers – Midnight At The Wheel Club
Ian Williams' vocal influences are easy enough to spot – Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave have all clearly been imbibed, imitated and revered by the London-based singer-songwriter, but on Midnight At The Wheel Club, his voice is fixed in such a low register that the poor man actually sounds grievously ill. Luckily, this is no bar to enjoyment – the fragility in his smoke-ravaged croak is what gives the record its charm.
It seems churlish to criticise Williams and Dead Flowers for their adherence to well-worn tropes of alt. country and Americana – the fiddle, accordion, and finger-picked guitar. If you like the genre, this is a fine example, and there is enough originality in Williams' beatific, introspective lyrics to make up for the lack of any musical innovation. When the results include a ballad as wonderfully glum and depressing as In The Dark, adherence to form is an undeniably valid approach. One for the purists.