Wyndham – Fistful of Stars

There’s a moment on ‘Spark’ a track from Wyndham’s new album Fistful of Stars when it feels like the artist was less intent in making music, and more involved in making a time machine. The attention to production detail and the timbre of the tune place soft shoes on modern moods and dance ’em way back to the 1970’s. Wait – we’re not being facetious.

Whilst there are elements of retrospection, and a clear admiration for the revered artists of a certain era, Wyndham isn’t simply building a pastiche of sound, dressing his intention with non-challenging treatments. The sense here is that the balance between external and internal landscapes requires the tones that were first set back in time. The artist concerns himself with extracting the best from each element – and then bringing harmony. Overdubs seem rare, and the holistic whole of a song is nurtured, rather than edited into place. Perhaps this is the old-fashioned way of doing things – art is given space and love.

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Keys swell, guitars jangle, scale and offer light hooks. Amber sunshine is poured over everything. “Daydreams drift on by” sings the artist on ‘Powder’ and his vocal register calls up the spirit of David Gates and Bread. There is delicacy and there is fortitude. The celebration of beauty is unabashed. Keyboards punctuate the album, and humility isn’t initially obvious. This isn’t quite wall-of-sound stuff – but the walnut sound of yesterday is definitely turned up on the amp.

Of course, we live in the now – and Wyndham’s concern with events that surround, and inform his view are not lost. Beneath the sonic treatment, and his compulsion to find the beauty in every progression, and every harmonic breath, there lies a substance.

Weight and darkness are here, they lie in the lyrical content. If not obviously grim, there are moments when Wyndham sings about the easily dismissed. “Temporary tattoos don’t leave bruises.” Is sung with tenderness, but it’s also deeply significant in scale – some things were never meant to last. It’s those things – the disposable, the easily commodified, that the artist demeans, while the values that endure is where he fixes his sight.

A Fistful Of Stars is an accomplished album, we’ve not talked of Wyndham’s duties as a live-player for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, nor his work as Lola Kirke’s producer. Kirk features here as guest vocalist on ‘Spark’. Those things are significant, and yes, they’ve informed his work. But name-dropping and association do little to clarify the tone here. The tone here is something else. It’s remarkable stuff.

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