Born in the mean streets of a 50’s Chicago, honed in the clubs by Muddy Waters and Elmore James: Americana is not just a musical genre – it’s the voice of the American people. So how successful is Welshman William Poyer’s distinctly Cambrian take upon this American as apple pie style?
Very. Although perhaps not in the way you’d think. Poyer spent three years in Mexico learning his trade – the musical choices are unarguably Americana. Simple instruments, nothing more complex than a second guitar occasionally (‘The Liars, The Bitches, The Crooks, and The Thieves’) to thicken it up. Other than that it is largely just Poyer and his Guitar. The music is polished, but isn’t exactly pulling up trees. If this can be a complaint, the music is a bit too clean – Americana is roughshod, the clean-as-a-whistle production makes it sound alien (more on this later).
However, the real triumph of Poyer’s creation is his lyrics. There is a often a tendency within Americana to utilise the same words and themes over slightly differing arrangements, however Poyer has managed to sidestep that tendency brilliantly. Three ‘banks’ of culture (American, Mexican, and Welsh) are more than adequate for this album. Poyer is quite clearly a very good songwriter, the brilliant ‘Fell the Truth’ is evidence enough of that. But how often do you hear playful references to the green grass of Wales in the Americana style? Between Woody Guthrie’s dust bowls and John Fogerty’s bayous not very often.
There are some detractors, however. The lyrics are patchy but get stronger throughout the album. If Poyer can be so strong lyrically, why hold back? Hopefully his follow-up will be more consistent. Occasionally the album becomes a little directionless but never quite lost, Poyer does sound as though he’s trying to write three different albums all at once.
What cannot be denied however, is that William Poyer’s debut album ‘Born Lucky’ is a unique tribute to the long and varied tradition of Americana.
‘Born Lucky’ is out now via Laid Bare Records.
This William Poyer article was written by David Lowes, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Michael Liggins.