Love heals me,
Fills all lost souls
These days are golden once more"
One Word Review: Soulful
"Propaganda Man" combines the sombre atmosphere from Ray Wilson's Stiltskin album, She, with the acoustic leanings of his previous two solo albums, "Change" and "The next best thing", to great effect. It doesn't have the same immediately embracing nature of "Change", but warms up with time. The darker atmosphere makes it a harder listen, but it's worth the time to let the album open up. Be prepared for an atmospheric journey through some of life's darker corners.
Ray's backing band is the same as on Stiltskin's She and they are a perfect fit. Ali Ferguson shines on guitar with a few well placed solos. Lawrie MacMillan provides deep and moody bass lines and Ashley MacMillan's percussion is extremely well done. Together they provide a tight, but relaxed foundation. Ray's voice has never sounded better. He has an incredibly deep and full bodied voice that seems to ripen with age. The production gives the album a vibrant atmosphere.
The lyrics feel very personal and as a nice touch, the theme of each song can be summed up by the last line of the its lyric; Love is all, Patience, Reflection, Hope, Truth, Healing, Forgiveness, Fear, Destiny. Music and lyrics are served as a well rounded dish with melancholy being the main ingredient. It's all very sensitive and beautiful.
Bless me is the not immediately impressive opener. It grows with time though. Lately changes the atmosphere with an acoustic foreplay. Ray's voice is very close, giving the song an intimate and very personal feel. The rest of the album continues this trend in a fascinating way.
Ray Wilson's mouth organ and Gregor Lowrey's accordion add a soothing layer of warmth to several songs and perfectly enhance the songs without stealing focus. The brakes are gone is one example of this. The song opens with a distinct melancholic atmosphere and as realization dawns, the song develops a more hopeful stance.
Piano is also used effectively to add extra emotion to many songs.
Razorlite is immediately captivating. It is a good example of how big a presence Ray's voice can be.
Frequency has a fantastic, almost ethereal atmosphere and it's one of those chilling songs that struck a nerve on the first listen, and to me it felt timeless right away, as it brings a deeply positive message wrapped inside a feeling of complete relaxation. But peeling away the relaxed surface layer reveals an intense and powerful core, which feels so held back, it can explode at any time. It never does.
Piano is perfectly used to give the song nerve and when it later is replaced by acoustic, and then electric guitar, the song blooms into full splendour. This is one of those songs that has to be felt. It emits a very special, soothing vibe and I find it impossible not to nod along, as the song is playing. Clearly an album highlight.
Another one of those, is Cosmic Baby. The opening notes to set such a potent atmosphere. Sharp guitar notes suddenly rip through the fabric and tear the song wide open. This opening is one of those "sit back and go Ahh"-moments, after which, the song slides into a nice groove.
Staying with the highlights, Modern Day Miracle deserves a mention as well. Its acoustic opening is wonderful and from there the song flows very well.
There are no duds on the album. Some songs need time to grow, like the two-part title track and the opener, but eventually they blossom.
In the end, On the other side provides the perfect, and I mean perfect, conclusion for the album. This song is just one of the reasons why I have become so hooked on Ray Wilson. I simply love the fact that he can bring so many feelings to life with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. This is Ray Wilson at his most intimate. An acoustic guitar and this voice is all I need.
Propaganda Man is well played, well sung, well produced and well, it's outstanding, really. Ray Wilson has become one of my favorite singer/songwriters and I can't get enough. The album can be ordered through his website.
If I had a need, I would surely need you
To help me with the changes, that life puts me through
And forget all the other times, that someone broke this heart of mine
Every time a lesson learned, it wasn't meant for me
You and me on the other side alone…
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, December 2, 2015
On the Other Side