CD REVIEW – Michael Weston King – The Struggle

Michael Weston King hails from the English coastal town of Southport, 20 miles north of Liverpool, where he cut his teeth in bands on the fringes of the post punk, new wave and power pop scene of the early 80’s until he discovered a deep-rooted love of Country and American folk music along with the jangle and twang of bands such as REM Green On Red and the new country sounds of Dwight Yoakham and Lye Lovett.

Aiming to try and fuse the Texan songwriting style of the likes of John Prine and Guy Clarke with the burgeoning No Depression sound of Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks he formed The Good Sons, who, from 1992-1999, made 4 critically acclaimed albums recording for Glitterhouse Records in Europe and Watermelon Records in Austin, Texas. They toured with, amongst many others, Joe Ely, Steve Earle, Joe Henry and Son Volt. During this time Michael also met, toured and collaborated with Townes Van Zandt who duetted with Michael on the bands debut album Singing The Glory Down.

Three albums in, mis-management, bad luck and a car crash stopped any kind of record deal and the band split in 1999. After the split Michael went solo and for the next 10 years became a fully fledged troubadour travelling all over the world. His links are a veritable who’s who as he played hundreds of shows and tours with the likes of Nick Cave, John Cale, Roger McGuinn, Guy Clark, America, Nils Lofgren, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Forbert. He released 5 studio albums, 3 live albums and a career retrospective DVD, The Crowning Story. Collaborating in the studio and on stage with the likes of Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen, Ron Sexsmith, Peter Case, John Doe, and Jackie Leven.

October 2011 saw another musical departure, with the release of an album of pure country duets, recorded with his wife, the singer, songwriter and former dancer Lou Dalgleish, under the name of My Darling Clementine. Entitled “How Do You Plead?” their debut had critical acclaim, the debut single, “100,000 Words” became a Radio 2 hit, and the next 9 years saw Michael devote most of his musical time to My Darling Clementine, with the release of 2 more successful studio albums and a song and story stage-play/album/audio book in collaboration with best selling crime writer Mark Billingham entitled The Other Half. The show toured from 2015 to 2017, including a run at The Edinburgh Festival. The album of the same name featured guest appearances from Graham Parker, The Brodsky Quartet and the actor David Morrissey.

In 2019 Michael and Lou teamed up with Steve Nieve (The Attractions, The Imposters) to record on an album reinterpreting the songs of Elvis Costello. Country Darkness was released over a series of EP’s between Oct 2019 – October 2020, with the complete album of all 13 songs released in November 2020. Covid 19 put paid to a tour with Steve but the album was well received critically.

And so to this similarly Covid-impacted album. It’s a selection of thought-provoking and compassionate songs and features guest appearances from afore-mentioned Steve Nieve, Jeb Loy Nichols, British jazz trombonist Barnaby Dickinson,  Lou Dalgleish, and his woodwind playing daughter Mabel Dalgleish-King. The album includes two co-writes with old friends. The song ‘Sugar’ was written in Lafayette with the great American troubadour Peter Case, while ‘Theory Of Truthmakers’ was co-written with Michael’s much missed friend and collaborator Jackie Leven, from an old unused lyric of Jackie’s that was passed on recently by a mutual friend. Recorded between the winter of 2020 and spring of 2021 in a remote rural studio in mid Wales, it was produced by Michael and recorded by engineer/musician Clovis Phillips.  Mixing and additional recording took place at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield with Michael’s long-time collaborator/producer Colin Elliot (Richard Hawley / Jarvis Cocker).

The 10 new songs still have a ring of country and country soul about them but have taken on a rootsier, folkier, more earthy sound. A departure from his My Darling Clementine day job of the past 10 years, this is an out and out singer-songwriter album, embedded in the late 60’s / early 70’s and inspired by artists and writers he embraced all those years ago such as Mickey Newbury, Dan Penn, Jesse Winchester, John Prine, Bobby Charles and early Van Morrison.

Tracklisting:

  1. Weight of the World
  2. Sugar
  3. The Hardest Thing of All
  4. Another Dying Day
  5. The Final Reel
  6. The Old Soft Shoe
  7. Valerie’s Coming Home
  8. Me & Frank
  9. Theory of Truthmakers
  10. Weight of the World (Ghostwriter Mix)

Internet

Official Website

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.