It’s a rare treat, when worship leaders show that they can write proper songs. My Good Man William's crowd-funded début impresses.
Time: 12 tracks / 51 mins
There is a lot riding on a crowd-funded début album. Old-stagers often have the fan base that affords them the chance to make a mistake and recover, but if a new band flops at the first hurdle, it’s much harder to get those funds for a second time around.
So it’s good that MGM William have made a strong early impression.
From when the harp-like strings open “Neverland” to ripple this disc alive, it seems like the musicians (guitarist/vocalist Will Jackson, drummer Josh Carpenter, plus friends) have put whatever resources they have into getting this collection right. By the time the track has finished, with its gently symphonic background gleaming, you’re pretty sure.
Their lyrical approach helps, too. Storytellers, they have a way with words, letting the listener fill the gaps; and if they can say something in a fresh way, they will (the love song “Slow Drive,” echoes with the refrain, “Please let your forever rest in mine”).
Filled with real life, there’s substance under their style. Some songs show the band taking a humble and honest look at themselves (“The Scam”), facing bereavement (“Ghosted Away”) and displaying a mature approach to endorsing healthy relationships, while the title track’s heartfelt plea is to let in God’s grace. Jackson worked for Tim Hughes for a while, so it’s good to find a worship leader able to write proper songs.
It struck me that they have a maturity beyond their years and a spoken section in “The Scam” says,
“She told me don’t grow old before your time
I told her I’m an old soul so you know my soul’s fine, I’m just trying to stay gold
My generation is crazy, lazy doing nothing...
It’s funny, we obsess about trending but can’t spend 144 characters on the person at the end of our transactions or those we meet on the street.
See we have less character in ourselves than we do in our tweets.
It’s bleak, redeem me from the scam that told me that I am at the centre of the world...“
The early tracks take me back to Wet Wet Wet with their light, beautifully-produced, radio-friendly sound (even one about a toxic relationship is bouncy). Colours of mandolin, horns, glockenspiel, lap steel and more give character to many of these folk/pop songs (tinged with country and rock).
Despite these textures, the vocal harmonies are so prevalent that they dictate and even out the sound somewhat. This may be why – although virtually every track has its merits individually – I found it easy for my attention to wander in the later songs.