About The Weeping Willows
These words are particularly apt when applied to The Weeping Willows’ second album, Before Darkness Comes A-Callin’. Recorded in Los Angeles with multiple Grammy winner, Ryan Freeland and a small cast of players hand-picked to leave all the right gaps and spaces, this record should be received as a mature, melancholic sequel to their debut. But listen a little harder and you’ll hear that the record is filled with that all of that wonder, magic and joy of which Nick Cave speaks.
That’s hardly surprising because, in a way, every song penned by The Weeping Willows is a love song. They’d deny that, of course. These tracks, they’d claim, are works of imagination – tales of cruelty, tragedy, murder and betrayal, all populated by gamblers, sinners, infidels and travelling salesmen (read: wandering musicians). Ask Andy or Laura to define their work and they’d probably hit you with phrases like “cautionary tales”, “murder ballads” or simply “folk songs”, but in truth these are love songs – each and every one of them.
How are they love songs, you ask? Because The Weeping Willows are lovers – they are devoted to each other and to the life of the artist in seemingly equal measure. Have you seen them perform together? Have you seen the knowing glances they exchange as they harmonise their eerie, at times surreal lyrics over Andy’s patient, timeless ¾ strum? Think back to those performances, those moments of chemistry in its purist form, then try to convince yourself that The Weeping Willows were not singing a love song. Every note plucked or sung by Andy and Laura is a work of love. Every dark hour spent huddled together refining their sound in the dimly-lit backroom of their home on the Southern outskirts of Melbourne is a labour of love.
Even when Andy and Laura are warning of the Valley Of Darkness (where your soul will be skinned alive!!), the mysterious The Pale Rider (who’s unearthly eyes are, of course, looking for them), or the treacherous Devil’s Road (which a dark crow watches over ominously from the old smoke stack), there is love (and a wry sense of humour) in abundance. In Travellin’ Man, a song co-written with Lachlan Bryan, the love addressed more directly, but tempered by the realities of life as an itinerant musician (realities that, fortunately for them, Andy and Laura manage to eschew in real life).
So what does this all mean for we the listeners and the viewers (or perhaps the voyeurs is more apt in this case)? The answer is integrity – there’s an inherent truthfulness, perhaps even a righteousness, in every recording and performance by The Weeping Willows. They themselves can’t help it – for when music is born of love it is unflinchingly honest – even if the words are entirely fictional. This integrity is the reason The Willows can play almost every week of the year, often three or four times, winning over new fans and loyal friends wherever they go. It’s the reason they turn up on more festival bills than just about any other local act, and it’s the reason they end up opening for the likes of Bill Chambers, Shane Nicholson and even songwriting legend Iris Dement.
Darkness may be at the heart of The Weeping Willows’ new record, but there is love at the core – and with that love comes a sincerity and artfulness that listeners will cherish for a long time to come.
“Their authenticity and craft as singers, as songwriters and in Andrew Wrigglesworth's sublime guitar playing makes this a hypnotic and alluring album. Dark folk, blues and country musings on nature, death and doomed romance suit them well and puts Wrigglesworth and Laura Coates right up there with the finest Americana music you'll hear this year.”
- The Music (themusic.com.au) (Feb. 2016)
“The (Weeping Willows) record is a stunning evolution for a band who doesn’t take their musical craft lightly, an impressive masterclass in songwriting and storytelling, Before Darkness Comes A‐Callin’ is definitely an album worth spending some time with…"
- Tone Deaf (tonedeaf.com.au) (Feb. 2016)
"With Before Darkness Comes A Callin’, The Weeping Willows have delivered a world class Americana album ingrained with integrity and a good tip of the hat to the traditional elements of the genre. If this is the current quality of Americana music in Australia, we’re in good hands..."
- Americana Australia (facebook.com/americanaustralia) (March 2016)
“The Weeping Willows have created a real country‐folk gem with their debut record. They take us back to what is beautiful about traditional country music: tender harmonies, wonderful guitar picking and lovingly crafted songs.”
- Les Thomas, Unpaved’ (unpaved.com.au)
"This is music that mixes songwriting, storytelling, virtuosic playing and the simple delight of two perfectly matched voices singing in harmony to excellent effect."
- Chris Familton, Post to Wire (posttowire.com)