Does the Spirit of Minnie fly high and free or crash and burn?
Will Varley has been on a long journey as an artist, you only need to listen to his first album (Advert Soundtracks) to see that he started out plying his trade as a comedic busker, with a penchant for a hilarious tale that comes full circle – Take a listen to I Got This Email and you’ll understand my point. Spirit of Minnie is something more though, it’s a coming of age and signifies his evolution to a songwriter that’s found his place in the world.
"What’s most important here is that immediately after finishing Insect (the final track on the record) I wanted to start all over again."
I sat down to listen to my first run through of Spirit of Minnie with a glass of overproof rum and a plea for better things after the lackluster release of Kingsdown Sundown (February Snow and To Build A Wall notwithstanding). After that album I found myself longing for the days of the Self Checkout Shuffle and the Talking Cat Blues, but actually, Spirit of Minnie proved to be something more. You can expect a relatively short run of nine tracks, each of which tells its own tale of heartache, political commentary, or general life lesson. The key characteristic here is that they are all engaging, and for the most part they draw you in and carry you along to the conclusion. What’s most important here is that immediately after finishing Insect (the final track on the record) I wanted to start all over again.
A highlight on the record is Breaking the Bread, the song starts softly, but leads you to a crescendo of strings backed by a gentle pattering drum beat. Breathless vocals from Varley add character and set the track apart from most others.
The title track Spirit of Minnie starts slowly but reveals itself to be a beautiful story (not unlike Blood and Bone from As the Crow Flies). Haunting minor notes help the record build and Will’s signatory husky tone offset one another perfectly.
Those looking for hilarious improv about cats or chicken wings, or searching for obvious blatant political punditry will be disappointed by Spirit of Minnie. I can guarantee though anyone with a heavy heart, an appreciation for a damn fine story, or just looking for a deeply mature record to sympathize with need look no further.