This review may be a bit out of place on a progressive rock website, but if I say Damian Wilson, we all know whom I'm talking about. Alongside all his vocal participation on various projects and on two new albums this year alone, we know him mostly as the front man of progressive metal band Threshold and Headspace. Last year we heard a lot about him and the acoustic cover band Maiden UniteD. Not so many people will know him however as a solo artist. This year he released his solo album with the appropriate title I thought The World Was Listening 1997-2011. I think you can call it his baby. All songs are written by him and some of them go back to when he was only 16 years old.
The double album is a compilation from the three solo albums he made, plus 5 previously unreleased tracks. Some new versions of earlier songs add a freshness to the whole album. And yet it sounds familiar, although his vocals can't be compared to anything else he does! By pre-ordering the CD you got a bonus download with some live material. It also contained the ELP cover Knife Edge, by Star One, which can be seen on YouTube. (see DamianWilson Official videos)
I think on I Thought The World Was Listening Damian sounds more vulnerable and emotional than ever before. The album is produced with the greatest care, music wise and artistically and his voice is just made for this singer-songwriter stuff. Other than progressive rock music, I do like singer- songwriters. But, they have to be very good to keep my attention for a whole album, let alone a double album. Damian does that. The songs are never boring, no matter how many times you listen to them. Let me be clear, it is not progressive rock music. I am not going to lie down on the couch with my headphones on. No need for that, but that's a blessing! Sometimes I really hate listening to these complicated albums, which are too difficult to comprehend at first hearing. I do it, because I know in the end I will be rewarded with goose bumps or whatever feeling it is, that lifts me up. Well, Damian's album has that same effect instantly.
The songs are so pure and simple that it's almost art. There are some like Homegrown, with a melody that is classic and timeless. Damian is not only a talented singer but he also has the gift of writing beautiful songs and melodies that feel like a warm blanket. I once read a book where this feeling was explained as 'a universal experience, the knowledge from deep within us all, that there's more between heaven and earth', but there are only a few people capable of writing it down. He can, with his music.
To avoid becoming too emotional, the album has a perfect balance between sad songs and up tempo ones with a cheerful twist. Not all songs are purely acoustic. That's what is different with his former solo albums. Beautiful and tasteful musical arrangements with piano, cello and violin are framing the songs and make them even more special. Never a dull moment!
Lyrically the songs are close to his heart. But even when you don't listen to the lyrics, you can hear it just by the way he sings them. People often ask me what I like about this man. I can assure you it's not his hair, although I like that too. He is a nice and good-looking guy, but above all, I think his personality reflects his music and makes it so special. Its authenticity, I cannot describe it any other way. Take for instance the song Naturally, where his brother joins him on backing vocals. The song only lasts a bit over a minute, yet leaves an impression!
Highlight to me, in this time of year, is the new song Array Of Lights about his father, his son(s) and Christmas. Without being over the top with little bells and everything, it just gives you the shivers and you see the story which he is telling unfolding before your eyes. I think it's safe to say that this album can be bought by any man as a Christmas present to his beloved.
***** Janke Rijpkema
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