Two Wings - A Wake
- Nicola Meighan
- 14 March 2014
Second album from Glasgow five-piece is full of lavish instrumentation and arrangements
Let us play a game in which we attempt to swerve the adjective 'soaring' when discussing the uplifting folk-rock wonder of Glasgow five-piece Two Wings. It is a nigh-impossible task, such is the quintet's knack for airborne verse and self-propelling arias, as evinced on their glorious second album A Wake.
Look at their name from any angle and it resonates: the folk-rock lineage (Wings); the gospel-blues riffage (reminiscent of the Rev Utah Smith's 'Two Wings'); the avian fascination that vocalist/artist Hanna Tuulikki (also part of trio Nalle) has long explored in her work; the fact that vocalist/guitarist Ben Reynolds (Trembling Bells) issued a solo album called Two Wings in 2008. As co-songwriters, Tuulikki and Reynolds are also mutually supportive – keeping their songs, and thus Two Wings, aloft.
A Wake similarly inhabits and explores the myriad meanings of its title, from the accelerating gospel-rock valediction of 'Adieu', through the choral porch-swing blues of 'A Wake To The Dream', to the drum-tumbling madrigal swoon of 'Loveless', in which Tuulikki chronicles lovers in flight, and their ardour fading like vapour behind them.
Tuulikki's vocal intonations in 'Loveless' are likely to garner Kate Bush comparisons (both are truly singular vocalists), and there's no doubting (or resisting) the gorgeous, cosmic Fleetwood Mac-isms of 'Stranger', thanks to lavish instrumentation and arrangements – embellished by percussionist Owen Curtis Williams, bassist Kenny Wilson and vocalist Lucy Duncombe – that echo through the album.
But amid their vintage reference points (soft-rock, fried-country, ceilidh-bombast, psalm-singing, Memphis Soul), there are surprises. Euphoric opener 'Peace-Fear' invokes Phil Collins and Phil Bailey's 'Easy Lover' in its maiden beats (this is intended as the highest of praise), and there's some brassy, blues-folk bump'n'grind on 'You Give Me Love' – hot as you like, for the bedtime hour. It's followed by a post-coital swansong, 'Go To Sleep', which sees the band sing in unison, 'awake with the sun'. You bet Two Wings soar.