Review : William Fitzsimmons - Gold In The Shadow
SputnikmusicMany of us fully expected to group William Fitzsimmons’ latest with the best that 2011 has yet to offer in the singer-songwriter field, namely with Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo and of course PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake, yet Gold In The Shadow is not the collection of melodramatic and emotive tunes we had hoped it would be. Instead, broken Fitz-y has gone the way of that other famous, whispering beard, Iron & Wine’s Sam Bean, offering us what is essentially his weakest album thus far.
The audio portrayal of heartbreak and loss has always been Fitzsimmons’ shtick in the past – damn the guy was just so good at making us cry on 2006 home-recorded classics Goodnight and especially Until When We Are Ghosts. So when the mental therapist announced early this year that Gold was “a real and long coming confrontation with personal demons, past mistakes and the spectre of mental illness which has hovered over [himself] for the great majority of [his] life,” more than a few skeptic eyebrows were raised, including yours truly.
Fitz-y in a happy setting, or even in a hopeful one, did not sound so good on paper, and on Gold, it really isn’t. For one thing, the man still sounds sad, and if you knew nothing about the background of the album before having listened you would assume that songs “Psychasthenia” and “The Winter From Her Leaving” were just b-sides taken from his last studio effort, the b-grade The Sparrow and the Crow, the former draped in Edge-like guitar echo with Fitzsimmons crooning, “Cut me open, please”. Happy and hopeful, right? Indeed, my thoughts exactly....full text
Music-newsThe sheer shimmering beauty of this album is a joy and a delight. His voice is high and soft with a whispering quality and his music is soft and delicate.
On the face of it this is all on a similar plane: a slow and halting pace and a soft dynamic that never gets above the level of his voice but listen closer and there is plenty happening under the surface with enough to propel the songs forward from mere dirges.
It isn’t an album to get excited by and nor is it an album to pick highlights and low moments from but it has a similar quality to some of the mid-period British emotional singer-songwriting. He isn’t up to the quality of Nick Drake but I would far rather listen to this than most of James Blunt or Paolo Nuttini’s output – it just feels more as though he is in touch with his own emotions.
When a little whimsy does creep in it definitely lightens the overall mood but the feeling you will be left with is a wistful longing and a gentle smile.
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BuzzinmusicblogGold in the Shadow gets underway with the gorgeous new single The Tide Pulls From The Moon, a fair reflection of what’s yet to come on William Fitzsimmons third album.
A generally more uplifting collection than his bleak and intimate last effort The Sparrow And The Crow in 2008 which dealt with his personal feelings during the time of his marriage break up and divorce.
Regardless of the content that album went on to become iTunes Best Folk Album of 2008 and Gold in the Shadow is destined to achieve at least a similar accolade if not a whole lot more.
Fitzsimmons is a gifted songwriter who conjures up images through his wonderful lyrics rather than storytelling, while weaving stunning melodies with his dexterous finger picking. His fragile and tender vocals will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel, in particular the early solo work of Paul Simon.
This is most apparent on the beautiful track Bird Of Winter Prey, but equally evident on the early tracks on the album Beautiful Girl, the uplifting The Winter From Her Leaving and Fade & Then Return, while the quite excellent Psychasthenia pushes the album in to another dimension, evoking memories of Prefab Sprout with its heavenly hushed boy/girl vocals....full text
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