Release Date: May 12, 2017
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
An American singer/songwriter openly indebted to Nick Drake, Will Stratton had been quietly releasing albums of consistently high quality for a decade by the arrival of his sixth LP, Rosewood Almanac. While such things are often unknowable, his relative lack of celebrity by the time of its 2017 release may be due, at least partly, to his own disinterest in self-promotion. That includes, with regular but limited exceptions, revisiting material by way of touring.
It's been suggested more than a couple of times that Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde's freewheeling signing policy mirrors Chris Blackwell's at Island Records in the late 60s and 70s. Pursuing the theory further, it could be said that California-born upstate New York resident Stratton serves as the label's very own Nick Drake. Stratton himself cites Drake as an influence, alongside other Brit folk A-listers such as Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny, and it's evident in the understated hues of much of Rosewood Almanac, not least the pastoral strum of the opening Light Blue and the delicate musings of Skating On The Glass.
The sixth full-length album from singer-songwriter Will Stratton begins with the sound of chirping birds--a nod, perhaps, to the pastoral folk roots that Stratton has worn on his sleeve for the better part of his career. The birds set a comfortable tone for an exceedingly comfortable, if engrossing, set of songs that bare the influence of English folk pioneers like Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, and Richard Thompson. But these days, Stratton wears them like an old jacket he's grown into with ease, one that now conforms to his own features.
T his is the sound of lost summers, dangling one foot in the waters where Midlake and Iron & Wine have spent time, another in the depths of Nick Drake and Bert Jansch, where folk guitar figures circle like whirlpools. Stratton is a 30-year-old Californian-born, New Jersey native with a story to summon myths: son of a travelling preacher and a cancer survivor, his music was found by Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde during a night-time online search. These 10 songs feel fittingly, consistently delicate and fawn-like, even when their lyrics bare teeth.