I know what I must do
And no one, however devoted
Could stand in the path to you"
One Word Review: Tender
I bought this album blindly, after the magical Star One concert in Hamburg in 2002. Having experienced Damian Wilson singing live got me interested in his solo work, though I had no idea what his music would sound like.
To say I was surprised when I listened to the album for the first time, would be an understatement. This is not heavy metal music with heavy guitars or pounding drums. This music draws its power from other sources, and the final result is an album of true beauty.
Personal, tender, warm, embracing, spirited, life affirming and natural are all words that can be used to describe the album, yet they don't come close to capturing the actual experience of listening to it.
The music is very laid back and relies mostly on Damian's voice. And what a voice he has. Not since I listened to "Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes" for the first time, have I been so enamored by a vocal performance. He has a quality that speaks directly to the soul, and somehow he creates an incredible feeling of closeness.
Damian is accompanied perfectly by The City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra. The orchestra paints a beautiful musical background, with acoustic guitars, piano, violins, flutes and many other instruments. The way the orchestra plays along with Damian's voice, creates a world of warm and touching music, as they mesh in the most beautiful way.
The lyrics of the album deal with relationships in a family, and Damian comes across with his own philosophy for living and surviving in this world. Some songs are very personal and touch on some deep issues. I like it when an artist is able to convey feelings such as these with success, it is a rare thing to capture.
When I first listened to the album, 14 years ago, I had not experienced much of what is described in the lyrics, but I still related strongly to the feelings in them. The beauty of the whole thing, is that the lyrics are written in such a way, that they put the listener right into the mind of Damian and this makes them that much more powerful. Now, that I have become a father myself, the songs only resonate even stronger.
Describing the songs on this album is an area where I feel that my words are not quite sufficient. You have to hear them yourself. There is not one bad song on the album and every song has something important to say. If I tried to describe them all I'm afraid that I would be repeating myself endlessly, because they all are so good in their own way. The lyrics can be understood on several levels too.
I'll just try and emphasize on a few of my favorites.
Disciple opens the album and at once, pulled me into a world of soothing, gentle music. It's a beautiful start to the album and I strongly relate to the lyrics. Flute and strings emphasize the emotions without overshadowing the vocals. This title track sums up the album in several ways.
Brightest way is at the same time sad, as well sending a positive message, because no matter what there is always hope. This song has a great way of conveying those feelings, through its different changes in rhythm. Heavenly mine is another song, where I love the multi-faceted lyrics and overall feel.
The song that became my favorite right from the first time I heard it was Never close the door, the last part of a trilogy of songs exploring father-children relationships. Damian sings with so much feeling here, that it pierces flesh and bone and goes straight for the soul. Having gone through an evolution myself during the years that have passed since purchasing the album, I can only sit back and listen, a teary eyed emotional wreck, whilst smiling and nodding, since this, right here, rings completely true and I cannot fathom a better way of capturing these feelings. So much depth and honesty is carried through every ounce of the song, and I can't listen to it without being moved.
Part of Me is a song on the same level and it moves me in the same way. I always found the song heartbreaking, but after having watched the Damian Wilson documentary on his concert DVD, the song suddenly has extra context and parts of it become almost unbearable, on some level. Yet, it also carries an incredible strength and a quite unique affirmation of life, and the possibility of overcoming great challenges. That honesty I spoke of earlier, shines through here, in the most touching way and I find the song to be a strong reminder to always keep a positive outlook, that life is dear and to make the most of what I have, on every level.
I just love songs like Nothing without you and What a Man Can Dream, which both are very personal with strong lyrics. Especially the lyrics to What a Man Can Dream are very special.
There are some very good reasons to buy the Limited double CD edition of the album, if you can somehow still get your hands on it. The digibook packaging is very nicely done and gives a bigger impression than the normal CD version. The real reason for getting the limited edition though, is of course the second disc, which contains some songs, I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on for the world.
The highlight is the cover version of John Lennon's Grow Old with me (This one is also included on the one disc version as the last song). Even though I'm a huge John Lennon and Beatles fan, I had never heard the original, but this just feels right.
In a word has such a beautiful feeling. The way Damian sings here is amazing, and the lyrics are so strong in their message about the relationship between father and son. I love how the song opens up and just flows, right from the first vocal line.
Damian wrote Just the way it goes when he was a teenager and after I heard this song for the first time, I loved it. There is a deep atmosphere to this song, both in the way it's sung, but also in the instrumentation. The lyrics send across a feeling of one very determined man, who does what he wants because he feels it's right and is content with doing so. It is a blessing to realize that kind of determination and it brings with it a feeling of peace.
A monday night in March is a beautiful reminiscence of the young love between two, that once was, but for some reason was lost. On the other hand parts of the song could also be seen as a reminiscence about love that was once young, but grew old and the way it changed through the years spent with the same person, which makes it very melancholic. Hhmmm, maybe I'm just rambling here...
I guess that with trying to emphasize on a few favourites, it seems I managed to mention almost every song anyway... Oh, well...
The performance of the orchestra is in a sense, perfect. The orchestra is able to emphasize the vocals, but when concentrating on the music behind the voice, many small details and beautiful melodies show themselves.
Back when I first discovered Disciple, I fell completely in love with it and now, even after countless listens, as the album has grown and bloomed, the experience is unlike any other album, completely unique and fulfilling with every listen.
To me, music is not all about style, it is about emotions and giving something to the listener. This album certainly delivers that in spades.
It might sound like Disciple is just about perfect and in it's own right, I feel that this the case. I have a hard time finding some points of critique here, as the album is filled with what makes me love music so much. Feeling, honesty and the power to bring out real emotions.
That being said I'm sure that not everybody will like this album as much as me, but if you don't give it a chance you might miss out on a real musical gem, like I almost did.
Written By Steen
Online: Monday, October 10, 2016
Part Of Me