Album Review: Ricky Warwick – “Hearts On Trees”
Ricky Warwick has evidently been a busy man of late. As well as a new Black Star Riders album out this month (as you’ll know if you read our review the other week), he’s also undergone a Pledge project which has seen him unleash not one, but two, new solo albums on the general public.
We’ll deal with the electric album When Patsy Cline Was Crazy And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues in the next few days, but Hearts On Trees is Warwick’s acoustic album. As I’ve often said before, I’ve always viewed acoustic albums as a bit of a difficult trick to pull off – if they’re not handled carefully then you can end up with a dozen tracks which kind of plod along and meld into each other leaving the listener decidedly underwhelmed.
Happy to say though, that’s not the case here. Maybe it’s the fact that Warwick has explored this avenue before on several of the more mellow moments on his previous solo albums, or maybe it’s just that he has the sort of gentle growl of a voice that suits this material well, but Hearts On Trees is a good effort. A lot of the songs here deal with Ricky’s youth and heritage such as the dark opener Presbyterian Homesick Blues, which is about the restrictive nature of a religious upbringing in Glasgow and Belfast, the two cities in which he spent his youth, while Tank McCullough Saturdays and 82 both look back wistfully at his teenage years. Meanwhile, the title track is the tale of an Irishman emigrating to start a new life in America and missing his homeland.
The high point though is Schwaben Redoubt, a tale of an Ulsterman and a Dublin boy being sent to the Somme together and finding comradeship through struggle. Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers joins Warwick on vocals, and it’s a well-written and thought provoking song. But everything here is well thought out and well played – it isn’t an album for playing before a night out, more for listening to on a rainy afternoon in your living room with a glass of whatever your poison is. And that’s good enough for me.
As I say, acoustic albums are generally a tricky beast to pull off, but Warwick has done himself proud here. Hearts On Trees is 35 minutes of good solid Celtic songwriting, with a nod to folk and country, but enough energy and feeling to keep you interested throughout. Definitely well worth a look.