Album Review: Ginger Wildheart – “The Pessimist’s Companion”
It’s an oft-used saying that great art is born out of suffering, and it’s probably fair to say that Ginger knows that better than most. Written following a couple of decidedly turbulent years in the Wildhearts frontman’s life, The Pessimist’s Companion is almost a sequel album to last year’s Ghost In The Tanglewood, and sees him dusting his trusty acoustic off and putting the more reflective side of his songwriting out there.
Rather like its predecessor, this is a painfully honest album and certainly the likes of Why Aye (Oh You), I Love You So Much That I’m Leaving and You Will Let Me Down Again see Ginger picking over the bones of past relationships and his own flaws in a quite brutally self-aware way. Even when he’s in a downbeat mood like this though, he seemingly can’t help but wrap those demons up in some quite lovely warm-sounding tunes, and the result is a genuinely honest and surprisingly uplifting album.
The main feeling from listening to this album is that it’s the sound of Ginger at a crossroads trying to work out where he’s gonna go next, with Sweet Wanderlust being a bit of a meditation on how the path of escape can often lead you full circle into the same problems you had before. However, there’s definitely a “light at the end of the tunnel” vibe to the likes of In Reverse, and the “hold your head up” sentiments of the two tracks which bookend this album, May The Restless Find Peace and There Is A House, make them genuinely comforting to listen to.
Ginger’s often talked in the past about his love of country and folk music and certainly the two artists that The Pessimist’s Companion brings to mind are two that he’s often cited as influences; namely Steve Earle and Maria McKee (especially during her Lone Justice years) in that it’s a bruised, tender but genuinely reassuring album to lose yourself in.
For anyone who feels like they need an arm around their shoulder and someone to tell them that things are gonna be alright at the moment, "The Pessimist's Companion" comes highly recommended. An album which wears its heart and its scars on its sleeve, but does so with the message that no matter how hopeless things may seem a lot of the time, there's always a tomorrow to aim towards. This is a genuinely lovely listen.