Totally Biased Fan Review: Before Darkness Comes A-Callin’ – The Weeping Willows (Laura Coates and Andrew Wrigglesworth)

Every so often in this big old world, you meet extra special people, who are good for your heart and soul. They make your heart sing and your feet tap and give you a spoonful of sugar. That doesn’t mean that they are saccharine people or that their music is that way, far from it. Their music has many meanings and it has extreme depth. As people, they are amongst the most real and sincere people that I have met. I met The Weeping Willows through other excellent musicians and a young photographer and fellow music tragic. Victoria is brimming with rivers and mountains of fabulous country music these days, honing in on the Alt. Country Music scene, in particular. I reviewed The Weeping Willows’ first album, Til the North Wind Blows on A Country Hattitude (See link) which whet the old appetite for another helping. It has been a while coming, and we are all very glad that the wait is over.
As an old folkie from way back, it is wonderful to hear something familiar, but in a different song. There are probably things that they couldn’t write about back then that they can get away with now. The way a folk song works, though, is that you can disguise certain things if you are clever enough. The Weeping Willows do that with gusto and style. Folk music is traditionally sad music. It is often about a tragedy or a broken heart or death or loneliness. Sometimes, it is all of that. There is usually a road or a river, sometimes sunshine, always rain.
Country music has a lot of labels these days. I would call this Country Folk, though if you want to put it into the Alt. Country Music section, then it fits there too. Recorded in Canada, America and in Victoria, Australia, the sounds of all three places filter through.

The Songs: (songwriters in brackets)
Devil’s Road (Andrew, Laura, Lachlan Bryan)- before I looked at the credits, I picked this as a song that Mr Bryan had a hand in. The pure, haunting vocals of Laura and the manicured rumbling foil that Andrew provides easily lead you down that Devil’s Road.
River of Gold (Andrew and Laura): Where there is a road, there is a river. Souls are sold, there is surrender. One may be led to believe that the Devil’s Road leads to the River of Gold. The ocean doesn’t know what it is in for.
Forever in my dreams (Andrew and Laura): The first two songs have an edge to them that both scare and excite the listener, this one just eases you back into the couch and it allows you to pour the merlot and hum along. A cynic could read it as a story that has a captive, I am more of a glass half full person, so I will just put it down as a sweet love song….maybe.
The Pale Rider (Andrew and Laura): The first thought on this song was to find Clint Eastwood. Perhaps I am not too far wrong, or maybe that is my movie brain switching on. The temperature went up and I felt like I was being chased by a horseman….not such a bad feeling. I think this is the song that the thigh slaps are featured in….now that is an instrument that I can play!
Travellin’ Man (Andrew, Laura and Lachlan Bryan) – I think that Andrew is channelling Bob Dylan (think Lay Lady Lay kind of Bob), here. Again, obvious touches from Mr Bryan, and Andrew and Laura at their best. Great song.
Fallen Ring (Andrew and Laura) – A little bit of a thigh slapping solo here and not just from Laura. Some mighty fine pickin’ on this one too, which is no surprise. Catchy and probably a future shower song.
Valley of Darkness (Andrew and Laura) – The signature sound of this duo. In other words, this song best sums up their sound and their direction in their music not their career direction! A slow, sad song with a promise of a non-happily ever after.
Forgotten Flowers (Andrew and Laura) – Andrew and Laura’s songs create lots of images. It is easy to paint the picture with all of their colourful descriptions. However, in doing so, they also throw in a few red herrings and riddles that would make Batman’s foe scratch his head. Everytime that I listen to a Weeping Willows song, I get a different story….I reckon that is a good thing.
Garden of Tears (Andrew and Laura)- I love sad songs, and this is definitely a sad song. One of the best on the album. If you don’t want your beer or wine watered down, don’t listen to this song while you are drinking. Get a glass of warm water so it doesn’t make much difference. A hanky or two wouldn’t hurt either. Incredible song.
When the Sun Came Down (Andrew and Laura) – This song takes me back. It could be sung in one of those churches in the deep South, or high on a mountain, or down by the river. Hallelujah brother and sister. Amen.
This is a fantastic album, not just for us old folkies, but for anyone who appreciates great musicianship, meaningful lyrics and awesome harmonies. If you know Andrew and Laura even just a little bit, you know that the words are true and the music is truer.