Wah Wah Willie - Cinema - 2003
I found Australia’s Wah Wah Willie to be a heartfelt journey at the very least. It’s the work of a very versatile guitarist, one . The music is mostly instrumental, but there are vocal tracks as well. Though the music has a modern touch – notably electronic sounding rhythm – this is a “roots” approach to music.
Many styles can be found in the songs, whose lengths vary slightly from 4 to 6 minutes. There is the presence of blues, jazz, hints of R&B, southern rock, folk, and the occasional progressive flourishes. However, those who prefer their progressive rock to be hardcore – beware, because this is not progressive rock. And though Wah Wah Willie showcases tons of complex guitar work that is both blistering and subtle, “Cinema” is basically an accessible ride.
The first two tracks are driven by a funky beat over the acoustic excellence of ‘s lead. “Point Panic” follows with the CD’s first strong vocal track. “Letter from Timor” follows with some nice slide guitar, but the next few songs are pretty short and don’t really stand out. Song 9, “Still Life in Byron” has a melodic, spacious feel and is the next noteworthy track. It reminds me of Phil Manzanera’s early solo work. Track 11, “Where the boots come in”, another short instrumental, continues the Manzanera/Eno approach to guitar ambience, with sprawling languid aural landscapes. Despite its 2 minute length, this could be considered the CD’s most progressive track. Track 13, “String of Pearls” closes and is the best track. It’s a bittersweet, beautiful vocal ballad and has a sound all its own, with some very sensitive lyrics.
Wah Wah Willie delivers all kinds of guitar treats and is certainly a recording worth noting. However, as a progressive feast, it comes up short. Still, the subtlety and mostly acoustic approach is miles more interesting than the minions of shredders the guitar world has seen of late.