Lone Wolf - The Lovers

Almost every one is a foot-tapper and it’s all very pleasing.

Label: It Never Rains Records

Rating: 7

Lone Wolf, aka Paul Marshall, is widely described as an alternative folk singer/songwriter, but that doesn’t really prepare you for the sounds on new album, ‘The Lovers’. What we mean by ‘folk’ is so muddy that we’ve created sub-genre after sub-genre to try to clean the definition up, but it obviously hasn’t worked very well: ‘alternative folk’ is just more confusing. If contemporary folk music is everything folk-like which isn’t traditional, then isn’t all contemporary folk alternative? I don’t know. Definitions and labels are probably redundant anyway.
Previously a solo act, Marshall has now accrued a line-up of musicians from other bands from which he can select the appropriate combination, depending on the song or show. The result is a set of nine songs, each one brimming with musical interest and experimentation. The defining sounds are the technically impressive percussion and Marshall’s skilful guitar-playing; almost every one is a foot-tapper and it’s all very pleasing. It’s a subtle blend of excellent live playing and electronica, with no awkward moments of collision between the two.

Above this complex mesh, Marshall’s voice is a surprise. It’s a mainstream vocal, complete with a little vibrato and the occasional American, almost Broadway, twang. But it works because it’s not what we’re used to hearing. We’ve become accustomed either to the Conor Oberst school of anti-singers who struggle and squirm when required to place a note accurately, or to the Hayden Thorpe-esque, beautifully camp and dramatic falsetto. Marshall doesn’t belong to either team; his voice is effortlessly precise, with a warm, strong tone. It’s lovely. It’s so lovely that at times, alongside the musical dodgems going on beneath it, it’s easy to forget about the lyrics. They don’t take centre stage on this record, and it takes a determined and focused mind to give them real thought on a first, second or third listen. It’s worth taking the time to do so.
You can hear ‘Swan Of Meander’ here, the first release from the album. Its intricate percussion and beautiful backing vocals characterise much of the record; ‘Good Life’ is another highlight.