Tony Wright - Walnut Dash

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Woodcut Records
Produced by Tony Wright

Walnut Dash is the second solo album from Terrorvision and Laika Dog frontman Tony Wright. Whereas the first was gentle reflective and acoustic this is more rocking. It is a collection of songs, rather than an album in the strictest sense, but with Tony lyrics are important, with storytelling and word play unique to each track.

He has a knack for writing songs or combining words that others just could not carry off. He has a "cheeky chappy" personality that comes through on the whole album (anyone who has witnessed the man live in any of his bands or solo will understand completely) and is very engaging and likeable. He also has a talent for writing what seem upbeat party songs, but if listened to properly have thoughtful and sometimes sad messages or stories to them. There is depth amongst the joy, on the whole this is joyous music that raises smiles and spirits. Just about any of the 11 tracks could go on in a house party with friends or relatives and folk will end up singing along, even if they didn't plan to.

From opener Music Is The Food of Love, based on the Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" line, but replacing "play on" with "rock on", there is humour and rock in equal measure (Zappa did ask if humour belonged in music, and in his view of course it was a yes), which is to be celebrated and enjoyed. Within the words he rejoices in all aspects of good music directly, with lyrics like "words that call out to the throng, it makes us all belong, it's why we singalong," and "lyrics absurd wanting to be heard," whilst name-checking Status Quo.

In interviews he has said that he is paying homage to many of the bands and artists he likes, whether it be in the words, or musical phrases in the tracks. And he certainly name-checks a few, manages to throw in some John Lee Hooker, and have a laugh at folk who hated Tequila. Walnut Dash is indeed a lot of fun to listen to. That said, he can cover difficult subjects too, such as obsession and stalking on Delete Repeat, which starts by suggesting "if we could be friends we could be best mates", to a much more menacing "if we were lovers you wouldn't need no friends," and mentioning Facebook and Twitter scarily saying "deleted you long ago," whilst obviously fantasising - without doubt the heaviest and angriest song on the album.

The Blues asks the question how can anyone sing the blues when their luck is in? The use of a jaunty acoustic guitar against a very country sounding electric guitar adds to the tone of the song, as do lyrics about "off the rails, off the radar," yet still things are fine, which for a blues singer is a "nightmare". On Life's Too Short he highlights the need to make the most of time, because it's a short period, so "don't forget to tell the folk you love, you love 'em", "no one knows for certain when we face the final curtain". In someone else's hands, or voice, these lyrics would seem cheesy or simple, yet his delivery and his accent makes them work. One of the best lines is on the rebellious song about becoming a rocker, Spoons And Knives, "I don't believe in heaven, but if there's a hell I'll see you there".

He finishes the disc with one of the most infectious songs in his career, which is impressive considering his catalogue. It's a song about opposites attracting, called strangely enough Opposites Attract. Lyrically this could have also been written by the late great Victoria Wood. It's very northern, whimsical and catchy as a bug going around an office in the winter. The verse where he sings "I like to foxtrot, you like to tango, we came together with a right fandango" is perfect for the mood and sprightly tune. As do lines about musical differences, "you like the Beatles, I like Led Zeppelin," and "you tried to introduce me to Fleetwood Mac but I like Free," down to how they both prefer their tequilas differently.

This is a terrifically fun album which amuses and entertains, and more or less every song would sound great live. There are obviously similarities to his most famous band but that is how he sounds. Anyone who liked his previous work will love this one too. Naturally for anyone who hated Terrorvision, the chances of liking this are slim. These are great songs, which are gentle at times, harsh at others, but all the while contagious along with strong melodies and fantastic hooks. This is lovely stuff.

“ joyous music that raises smiles and spirits ”

Tracklist: Music Is The Food of Love / One Size Fits All / Lost Property / A&E / Life's Too Short / Rise Up / Delete Repeat / Spoons And Knives / The Blues / What Would I Be / Opposites Attract

Written by Tom Cornell
More: 2016, Albums, Rock, ,

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