Waiting for Wednesday
One Way Ticket
One Way Ticket can be heard here:
The album When We Were Seventeen can be heard here:
One Way Ticket
Girl You Don’t Love
Hold You Up
Looking for a Home
Rhythm to this Song
There’s a Plan
Waiting For Wednesday are:
Laura Shackleton, Guitar & Vocals
Anna Watkins, Vocals
Huge thank you to our “When We Were Seventeen” band Virpi Kettu (Violin), Dave Kaer Jones (Drums), Christian Gallon (Bass) and Pete Dudbridge (Lead Guitar).
© & ℗ 2015 Waiting for Wednesday. (W4W02)
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Sturgess at Soundstation Recording Studio, Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
All songs written and performed by Waiting for Wednesday
(L. Shackleton & A. Watkins)
Photography by Suggys Photography.
Retouching by Prefix Studio Ltd.
IN the ‘middle’ of my new-women-of-music marathon, today…
I am looking at a unique northern duo: a best friend twosome who makes some sumptuous music. Before I introduce them I am pricked by two themes: female-related music and the diversity of the scene. For some reason- perhaps fatigue at the lack of male diversity- my thoughts have been with the girls (of music). As part of my D.J. set- I do a weekly spot at a local bar- my playlist is turning to some great female acts: En Vogue are among the top choice; their timeless songs and stunning harmonies strike the heart- something the male equivalents are not capable of (in quite the same manner). Bering one of those (underrated) and legendary ‘90s acts, it has put my thoughts with genre range and diversity- but I shall get to that soon. At the moment, new music is not exciting me quite as much as before (I am talking mainstream sounds here). Bands like The Strypes and Foals are producing new material; not up to their best, there is a lot of fatigue and disappointment- not many acts really creating something magnificent. The best new releases (from this week and next) are Australian acts: this week, the magnificent Totally Mild; next week, the Punk-Rock outfit Royal Headache. These gems- from bands that are largely unknown in the public consciousness- are bucking the trend; however, the last few years have been (disappointing years) – how many great albums have stuck in your mind? If anything, new music is offering the most excitement- with so much passion and competition bubbling away. Not just a game of numbers, there is consistency and quality- away from the ho-hum/mediocracy of the mainstream players. I love the bands that are coming up; the hard and hot anthems; the striking Electro.-Pop orchestrations- it is the girls that are lingering in the imagination. Perhaps more imaginative and ambitious- I have raised this point in a previous review- the women are leading the way; coming up with the finest music- and showcasing an amazing sense of range and passion. The boys can do soft and gentle: songs from the heart; designed to seduce and compel the soul- it is the girls that have that distinct edge. Whether it is harmony-laden or Folk-based solo work, the girls showcase more beauty and nuance. Aside from the serene and ethereal, they are better (when the mood calls) for something primal and enraptured- Electro.-Pop and similar sounds. With more impressive solo artists- that pen more compelling tracks; have a bigger arsenal of emotions- the female acts coming out are impressive indeed. It may be a brief reign- or maybe an over-exageration- but the boys could learn a thing or two- take a listen to some of the best (female acts); around; they are demonstrating how to make some genuinely nuanced and fabulous music. Before I continue on my point- and in fact, raise a new one- let me introduce you to my featured act:
“Feisty female duo with sweet and husky voices harmonise distinctively in their stirring songs of love, loss and the importance of strong women. Influenced by the likes of Joni, Janis and Emmy-Lou, they write stories in the folk tradition and play them with a rock passion and country twang.”
It is the solid friendship- the Bradford duo display in their music- that makes each note so sublime and urgent; they have a clear affection and bond- the sort usually reserved for lovers. Of course, the boys (in bands) have a kinship and brotherly bond- nothing that comes close to the intuition Waiting for Wednesday show. It is great to be back in Yorkshire: this country is my favourite music avenue; it is pressing some of the most fantastic music in the U.K. Whether you like the stadium-sized jewels of Allusondrugs; the charming duo-play of Issimo; the solo beauty of Jen Armstrong (or some Jonnythefirth Blues magic) and you are well catered for. It is not Yorkshire bias, yet their commentators are bang on the money: the county is the most fervent and diverse (in this country). When interviewing Damien Hughes- of the band Allusondrugs- I posed the question (as to why there is diversity in Yorkshire). He explained to me: “I think people are throwing themselves into music more in this area because there’s not as much to do… I don’t think there’s any more opportunity up here than there is in London for example, but there’s definitely a lot more “competition” in London, there are so many people in one place so naturally there will be a lot of bands in the same place. So maybe it’s just that the north isn’t as saturated as the south. I could be wrong.” It seems a good explanation to me: down south we are a lot more built-up and stressed; there is (perhaps more) anxiety and pressure- the north has less negativity and saturation. Bradford’s Waiting For Wednesday not only go to prove the point- that show what great music Yorkshire is producing- but they display their own voice and sense of style. Their Modern-Folk sounds have embers of Smoke Fairies and their contemporaries; little hints of U.S. Country sounds- when it comes down to it, they are their own group. Having grown up (and been inspired by) a wide range of acts, the girls imbue this in their sounds: it is not singular and predictable; there are diversions and avenues; mixtures of sounds and emotions- music that is emotional and full. Whilst the ‘90s is synonymous with its diversity and range of sounds- I will touch on this in a blog later in the week- the 2010s is seeing a decline (in this trend) – there isn’t that same degree of innovation and surprise; those epic battles and peerless chart sounds. With acts like Waiting for Wednesday- epitomising the quality coming out in the Folk genre- there are embers (of the ‘90s) in their music; that same sense of originality and quality- something mainstream artists can take note from. With new releases- when it comes to albums being dropped- a rather patchy affair; we need to give new music’s best some deserved acclaim.
This is not the debut of Waiting for Wednesday: Girls Don’t Play Guitar was their opening salvo. A nine-track stunner, the album touched on issues or love and loss; passion and panache. The opening (self-titled) track was the perfect introduction: rushing guitars and urgent vocals, the girls melt perfectly. Assessing a tired relationship- where the two lovers are divided and hiding feelings- and ambiguity too. Maybe looking at the music industry or ambition; moving on in life and losing friends- the song paints images with several meanings; the listener can picture their own interpretation. Giving My Heart Away is more direct. Having been heartbroken several times (the girls) are learning from the past: having been heartbroken several times, they are being put through fire. Perhaps better not to have loved at all, the song has bruised skin and bloodshot eyes- a lament about the inequities of trust and love. Over Her Shoulder is more sprite and upbeat; a jumping Folk coda: the girls unite their distinct voices; the wind blows and guides (our heroines) – it is a travelogue of evocativeness and scene-setting beauty. Raincloud displays a softer and tender side: from its finger-picking opening, it is a beautiful and sensual song- showcasing how ethereal the (girls’ voices) are. Both deep and introspective, it is another stirring and atmospheric track. Filled with talent, range and variegation (Girls Don’t Play Guitar) stands as a remarkable achievement: an album that cemented their wonder from the off; is consistently tight and wondrous- a stunning achievement. Since then- and with their new album in the ether- there is development and growth. From the opening notes (to the lead-off song) there seems more confidence and urgency: those vocals seem even more arresting; those shivers come thicker and faster- their senses heightened here. With fewer tracks (seven) and more economy the album is crisper and more emotive. With shivering violin running through Girl You Don’t Love, those two (distinct and awesome) voices hit their heights- never have they sounded as intense and gripping. Looking for a Home is a fast-flowing rusher: metaphors of sunken wreckages stalk; the vocals trip and effuse- that drive and punch never relents. Both anthemic and intimate, it is a song filled with gorgeous wordplay and amazing performances. There’s a Plan contains that inimitable violin- here it haunts and tenderises; sways and kisses- as the girls close the L.P. One of the most Country-orientated tracks, it is gentler (than previous offerings); allowing them to demonstrate their beauty and sensitivity- providing wisdom and life lessons along the way. The composition builds and glides; the track grows larger and more scenic- a stunning close to proceedings. With a little more tightness and concision, the girls have developed their work; built on that (fantastic sapling) promise- come up with something both epic and personal; detailed and yet somehow simpler. The duo list the following as influences on their Facebook page: Johnny Flynn, Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Nancy Griffith; The Tallest Man on Earth, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Radical Faces, First Aid Kit; The Dixie Chicks, John Prine, Tegan and Sara, Fleetfoxes, Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling; The Cranberries, Brandi Carlisle and many more. If you are inclined to any of these artists; if you are familiar with a few- you will find some familiar tones within When We Were Seventeen. There are shades of the ‘60/’70s Folk pioneers; a straddling of U.K. and U.S. sounds; modern Folk and classic singer-songwriter templates- use these words as a guidance. What Laura Shackleton and Anna Watkins are (is their) own act: they have put some much personal heartache/input into the songs; honed their stunningly original voices; poured their hearts into the music- it would do them a disservice to compare (their music with) anybody else. A produce of an innovative and constantly-evolving act, it bodes well for the future.
Having attuned myself to Waiting For Wednesday, the issue of picking a track- that best represented their current ambitions- was a tough call. One Way Ticket seemed like the best song to select (the opening track from their latest track). The infant notes are tender and delicate: riparian and soothing, the strings give way to our heroine’s voice: it comes in rich and hard; determined and reminiscent. Looking back at teenage love- “He was my baby/when we were seventeen…”- the song visits the past; directly references the album’s title- those themes of teenage passions and ill-fated bonds. Hanging with the scene’s cool kids- and hanging by her fingernails- our lead lets her voice strike and emote: full-bodied and impassioned, you instantly start to picture; the images come vividly to mind. The early moments are sparse and focused- the vocal is the most prominent sound- making sure the lyrics are not impeded and overcrowded. With each word making its way into your mind, the duo unites in song: the track’s heartbreak and strain starts to come through. Whoever the sweetheart was, his sights were set elsewhere- “He met someone cooler.” Themes of alienation and teenage strife are not often represented in song- aside from the teenage Pop stars- it is not a subject touched-upon too much. Both original and compelling, you are gripped into the story: always rooting for our heroine, your attention is grabbed; you hope things work out well- the urgency of the vocal makes everything striking and fascinating. Having met someone prettier (and better for him) the song’s focus has gone with the cool kids; left our girl in the dust- and broken a heart in the process. Before the song becomes too sad and emotional, the compositional comes into view: the (acoustic) guitars ramp-up and march; the tempo rises and swells- a Country-cum-Folk jam gets underway. Another side of the story is unveiled; another friendship put under the microscope. Perhaps a culpable party- the object of the boy’s true affections- there is plenty of deceit and duplicity. As intended romances have crumbled, it seems friendships have too: “Before she met her lover-boy/she was my best friend.” Perhaps there is no so much bitterness, as there is caution and support. The boy seems to grabby and clingy; always wanting attention it seems- our heroine advises her to run (for the hills) and away from him. Warning the girl to “run for the hills my darling”, the song picks up and shifts; goes through another gear- that galloping coda gets under the skin; propels the feet and arms; gets the listener uplifted and energised. In spite of wisdom and truth being expounded; the song’s (naïve and untrusting girl) is not being smart- the ‘cooler’ girl is smitten (to an extent)- a fly falling into a trap. With a sense of desperation in the vocals- the two unite to emphasise that sense of danger and ill-fated love- you see the story unfolding clearly. That boy is luring her in; making sure he gets his way, we all know how it will end- that teenage naivety is blind to sensibility; the girl is a victim walking into the lion’s jaw. Our heroines want to buy a one-way ticket: there is too much love (in our lead’s heart) to “spend my days alone.” There is some depth and cleverness in the lyrics: maybe there is a second (and other girls) being talked-about; maybe the unwitting victim is (our heroine) – perhaps employing an ambiguous narrative to help shield some pain. To my mind there are other girls in the picture- the boy is unfaithful and a cheater- and you feel a real sympathy; our lead wants love and trust; someone true and supportive- instead she is fighting for a man who is a no-good. With Watkins taking the lead; letting her smoky voice lead the charge, every word is stunning and pressing. That voice is a rare thing indeed; it sounds like nothing on the current scene- parts Tracy Chapman and Janis Joplin; Etta James and the Blues legends. It is impossible to really bring names to mind: that voice is cigarette-battered and sensual; whiskey-soaked and hurricane-strong- something that can be tender and light (in spite of its immense power). Shackleton lends her sweet and supportive tones: contrasting Watkins’ darker shades, Shackleton provides gorgeous harmony; her tight and focused guitar work provides rush and energy- the two combine magnificently. Back to the song, and it seems things will not work out: the anti-hero has promised the world (to our lead); he is kicking about with other girls- it seems once a cheat, always a cheat. Someone who can’t commit, it seems heartbreak is imminent. Whether they were teens when they settled down- or this is a little later on- the boy is being an idiot; thinking he can lead a double life. When the truth out; the cat is out the bag- that is when a vengeance whirlwind is unleashed. Our heroine grabs the rat’s tail; spins him about his axis- tosses his (cheating arse) onto the concrete. Perhaps too trusting- or just deep in love at the time- a harsh truth has been learned; at least the boy is not getting a second chance. Whilst investigating a horrible and disreputable guy- who could have snared other girls; cheated on them- our heroine (both in united voice) look at a more honourable gentleman- (Watkins’) grandfather. He fought in the war; battled for love and peace- someone who only wanted good things in lie. A true and reliable man, it seems he has departed- and would be ashamed of the world today. Whilst there were never such a thing as ‘the good old days’- institutional racism and homophobia was rampant (from the ‘40s-‘80s for instance); domestic abuse was rife and more prescient; corruption was a huge concern- at least there was more honest and dignity (in love). With fewer cheating dogs, it is perhaps good (her grandfather) cannot see things- he would be shamed at the world’s state. It appears our heroine will live her life alone: having overcome heartache and hard lessons, it is time to take a breather from things. The tale itself is a rare one to behold: a lot of songs concerning dislocated love take a different perspective; they are rather clichéd and trite. Here, our duo present something classical- it has hints of older Blues and Folk templates- and deeply personal. Their sense of storytelling and wordplay is stunning: they mix simplicity with complexity; heartache and defiance; memorable lines and uplifted choruses- a hugely impressive whole. Ending the song in dramatic fashion- the duo unites once more; their vocals slowed and elongated- the messages are slower and more punctuated. The song’s anti-hero is a shallow and lying type: someone who wants disposability and meaningless qualities, you hope he gets his comeuppance- and gets caught in his own web. With the song drawing to a close- and our duo letting their voices reign one last time- the track settles down; the notes die and fade- One Way Ticket completes its travels.
Before I get to the duo (and congratulate them) it is worth mentioning the production sound. Everything is rich and decipherable: the sound quality is amazing and sharp; every note and vocal is crisp and concise. Nothing gets buried among the composition- like you hear in so many modern tracks- which make the song so effective. Allowing the vocals to be heard and understood, nothing suffers as a result- the guitar and percussion are not second-fiddle or under-mixed; everything is perfectly balanced throughout. The percussion work (throughout the song) is atmospheric and impressive. Not overly-powerful or needlessly wandering, it is tight and emotive: backing the vocals, the drum work adds heartbeat and insistency; keeps everything gripping and tense- allowing some breath and beauty when the mood calls. It is our Waiting for Wednesday duo that should be applauded. Watkins’ central voice is at its peak here: more emphatic and scintillating (than on any other track I have heard) it is a perfect cocktail, here. There are dusky and bitter notes; a sweetness and optimism underneath; a lot of power and anger- so much emotion and range within a single voice. In fact, over the course of a single line you get a switch and change: the vocal mutates from raw to soothing; wracked to relieve- without compromising integrity and consistency. One of the most distinct voices in modern music- how many other singers have that same sound and power?- Watkins lets her voice create magic and emotion. Other (lesser) singers would come off as too weak or slight; maybe too effete and forced- Watkins sounds both naturalistic and completely intuitive. Channeling the spirit of Blues and Folk legends, Watkins has a nuanced and rich voice- one that is hard to shake off. Filled with power and passion, One Way Ticket is turned into a stunning exorcism: a song that jumps to life; burns and ignites with a furious fire. Laura Shackleton provides the sweeter and lighter vocal: providing a sense of tranquility and grace, her voice is lush and full; sweet and sensual- a perfect counterpoint (to Watkins’ tones). With her guitar charging and gripping; fast-flowing and scene-setting, you cannot ignore her talents. Seamlessly blending with Watkins- that intuitive bond and closeness comes through in every moment- Shackleton provides a sense of light and soothe (but expertly backs up Watkins’ angry and accusation). When the two unite, that is when you get the biggest hit: their voices are made for one another; that unique combination is hard to define- two voices that summon up so many emotions and possibilities. Finally, to the song itself. One Way Ticket is a perfect opener (to When We Were Seventeen) that explains and defines the themes. Based around teenage love- the naivety and heartaches of that life- it is surprisingly mature and addictive. The lyrics are original and fascinating; they do not suffer hackneyed thoughts and over-predictable sentiments (like so many contemporaries) – instead you have a sung that bristles with personality and intelligence; tremendous story-telling and drama. Mixing redemeptiveness and strength- when our heroine deciders to get away and shake off her boy- you get some tenderness and honest confession- the lying and dishonor takes its toll; the scars are visible it seems. Such a rich and stunning track, One Way Ticket should be on everyone’s playlist: a track that keeps revealing layers (across repeated listens); a masterclass in modern-day songwriting- that will appeal to lovers of Blues and Folk; as it will Pop and Rock.
Waiting For Wednesday are a duo who demand a lot of respect: they are among the Modern-Folk world’s most arresting acts. Being familiar with dreamy duos (like Gypsyfingers- another blog regular); it has been great discovering the Bradford two-piece- an act with a clear future ahead of them. Inspired by the likes of Fleet Foxes and Laura Marling you can hear (a little of both acts) in their music. Those spectral and haunting harmonies- Fleet Foxes have perfected- makes its way to the surface; those spine-tingling voices get right inside your mind. Like Laura Marling, the duo combine classic Folk songwriting with modern production and sounds. The girls have received some high praise indeed- from local and nationwide press outlets- their songs are being broadcast (on a variety of) radio stations- they are gathering quite a head of steam. No wonder when you consider it: since their debut album/mini-album, the duo have grown and developed; their sound is fuller and more electrifying- no small praise considering how great they were (in their debut stages). Shackleton and Watkins have a solid friendship and unbreakable bond: when their voices mesh it is entrancing and silencing; when alone, they have their own style and quality- there is huskiness and sensuality; sweet-toned vibes and beauty. With their heart in the ‘60s/glory days of Folk/Rock- you can hear shades of Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin- and their soul in the present-day, that vintage-cum-modern blend creates a full and crowd-pleasing sound- not only essential to the young and fresh-eared; it will spike an interest with the more mature audiences. Their new album shows just what music-lovers require: stunning songs with wonderful stories; sensational and beautiful compositions; wonderful vocals with something a little extra- that unique and original sense of identity. The seven-track record showcases the girls’ beauty and passion; their exceptional sense of love and drama- all tied around their unbeatable vocal wonder. Hardly lesser-fiddles to the legends of Folk past, the Bradford duo have updated that sound; instill that distinct Country-Folk-Rock blend- and truly make it their own. There are many treasures to be found along When We Were Seventeen: stunning emotional moments for those in need of solace; beauty and uplift for the romantics and lovers; hard Rock edges for the gritty and rebellious- the girls have crafted a record that speaks to everyone; not just reserved for the few. Before I finish things off, it is worth circling back to my opening: regarding the music of Yorkshire. I am not surprised the county has spawned another treasure; produced a sensational act- Waiting For Wednesday are going to be a festival act of the future; one of the best new duos coming through the ranks- the promise and potential is all there. Soon they will break from the Yorkshire barriers; gets national (and international) demand- I can see them being mainstream regulars in years to come. Whilst the future is very much that, we must concentrate on the here-and-now: One Way Ticket is the sound of (a duo) with plenty of potential; voices that demand attention- and lift the spirits in a rather spectacular fashion. I know a lot of music fans growing bored at the moment: the mainstream is not really producing consistency; a lot of new music can be rather predictable and below-par- they are in need of something not only new; that which will last and reveal its true potential (across repeated investigation). Waiting For Wednesday brand music that has nuance a-plenty- songs that get better with each listen; sheds a layer of mystery with each fresh play. On top of that, there is consistency and popularity. Their second album/mini-album, the girls are growing in confidence and stature: they are not about to call time or quit; they have many more records left in them- meaning fans can breathe easy and find something reliable. With their social media ranks growing- and their fans being loyal and dedicated- it is the perfect time to discover something special. Scupper preconceptions and hang any notions of underwhelm: these girls mean serious business; their careers are just starting- expect to hear more from them very soon. With gigs and radio play mounting up, the dynamic duo is on their way up- make sure you get on board as soon as you can. In a world of indeterminate music; acts that can fizzle with little provocation- it is good to hear an act not only solid in their bond; the quality is consistent and stunning. Whether you are a Folk lover or not, there is much to recommend here. Neither niche nor clandestine, the girls make sounds for the masses; they say it loud and proud. If you have not investigated When We Were Seventeen, rectify this at once. Not just one of the best Modern-Folk albums of the moment, perhaps one of the…
FINEST albums of the month.
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