Brixton born Will Varley has been bubbling under the surface of the British folk scene since his teens playing in Kingston as a solo artist and as a member with various bands. The debut recording Advert Soundtracks, released on Smugglers Records is a follow up to the self-released back catalogue Collective Smirks 2004-2009 which charts his early years on the road.
With an intriguing insight for someone in his early twenties, Varley’s youthful soundtrack deals with many of the modern concerns of our society; reflecting on recent issues of hung parliament and economic meltdowns. His album flits between Dylanesque societal criticism and folk-punk numbers like album title track ‘Advert Soundtrack‘, which while lyrically quipped has a tendency to fall into stereotypes of our generation about soon to be young mothers addicted to ketamine and awaiting the next episode of Skins, while other prime time figures such as Simon Cowell and Jeremy Kyle make appearances elsewhere. This alongside his often angst affected vocals are minor criticism of a talent in the making however. Varley’s vocal delivery is direct and assured, and he benefits from possessing a voice certain to turn ears his way. Unique observations are coupled with unobtrusive instrumental accompaniments of acoustic guitar and violin, which is particularly well matched on ‘King for a King‘ which marks a timeline from cradle through adolescence to old age, it’s often hopeless lyrics pertaining to a ‘lost generation’: “If I slip a little whisky now into your cup, will you swear that you’ll never grow up”.
As a whole Advert Soundtracks is an album of two parts and is at times made all the more confused for the flitting between these. Often his songs harbour the more poetic lyrics; the electric tinged ‘Lost My Mind in Soho‘ for example which benefits from its obtuse choices of word and sombre violin accompaniment, as too does the acoustic ‘Newborn‘. While conversely in some instances there is a feeling that this debut could surpass expectation if some of the stereotypes and colloquialisms were shed. It’s a shame that the often crude though perhaps humourous lyrics Varley on occassion employs, can divert an interesting observation back to male adolescent pre-occupation with sex. That said, Varley feels very much, an as yet widely unnoticed voice for what could soon become the 21st Century’s lost generation, he paints a picture of British society with much more insight than his years at first pertain and there are glimmers throughout these ten tracks that hold promise of a British folk artist with something to say.