I reviewed Joe Wilkes album ‘Looking For The Grave of Garcia Lorca’ around 8 years ago.
He struck me then as a deeply intense songwriter, no mean guitarist and a really strong singer – pretty well the whole package for a singer/songwriter!

In the meantime he has had health issues that caused him not to be able to play guitar and he turned instead to teaching himself to play piano, broken fingers and all. He has had operations on his fingers that allow him to play guitar again and this collection spans the whole period.

Opening number ‘Ironstone Sky’ was written as he was learning piano, playing only the white notes and the song has a dense, internally visualised feel to it. By the time he recorded it various operations and treatments meant that his guitar playing had come back and he melds strident piano lines with his signature guitar.

His picking on the next track, ‘Less Hesitation’, is beautiful, fluid and soft, and the vocal close miked with a lovely harmony vocal.

Every track demonstrates the songwriting ability of Wilkes as well as the earthiness of his world-view and covering themes that deal with Trumpism, Palestine and even “a suicide love ballad which contemplates how God might feel if he fell in love with your dead girlfriend”

Wilkes has a fine ear for a pithy lyric and his songs are descriptions of real life told in the surreal but in such a way that it is not difficult to relate to his themes. As with the best music, it doesn’t immediately make itself clear but allows every listening to glean another element or particle of what he is laying down.

A disturbing but very strong set of music.