Let me make one thing clear
- I absolutely love The Almighty......or should that be loved? With the announcement
late last year that bassist Floyd London had quit the band, the end of the resurrected
mothers could be upon us. The Almighty never made a bad album - yeah, some were
far better than others - and each of those albums was welcomed onto my sci-fi
hi-fi like the return of an old friend. I first saw the band over two decades
ago, opening for Horse (London) at the legendary Bogiez venue in Cardiff, Wales.
The last time I saw them was early last year in the somewhat uncomfortable surroundings
of a packed small upstairs room in Bristol Academy, supported by former Horse
singer Gary Gene's band Head Inc. - it's a funny old world, etc....
At that gig, Ricky Warwick, with his hair growing back out, just didn't seem at ease. I wouldn't say uncomfortable in his own skin, but uncomfortable in that skin. Whilst Warwick was always the focal point of the band, that job had now seemingly fallen to the (thankfully) fit again Floyd. It just looked like Ricky was going through the motions - ass kicking motions though they may have been - in the guise of the frontman of The Almighty. The reimagining of Ricky Warwick as a gritty, one man Americana artist may not have been complete, but it was far enough down a dusty dirt track for the man to look maybe a little embarrassed in the role of metal frontman......and there's nothing wrong with that. The legacy of The Almighty will live on but their frontman has moved on......
With previous solo efforts 'Tattoos & Alibis' and 'Love Many, Trust Few', Ricky Warwick started afresh, albeit with Mike Ness or Jesse Malin style punk ethos still attached. 'Belfast Confetti' sees him tread more unfamiliar territory whilst dealing with the most familiar of subjects. The album is soaked in tales of Northern Ireland and Newtownards-born Warwick's upbringing, the Americana of those previous efforts fused with a gritty Celtic influence - his most personal musical project yet.
This isn't quite an album full of Celtic rock jigs that some reviews would, bizarrely, have you believe. Lyrically, the guts of the record are filled with a combination of local pride and national anxiety - the title track being the most obvious example - but it is only really second track 'The Arms Of Belfast Town' that sounds like a product of its subject. Album opener 'Can't Wait For Tomorrow', with its gospel-tinged middle section, isn't that far removed from the material of Warwick's previous solo releases, though maybe a little more assured. 'Throwin' Dirt' hangs on soul searching bursts of Havalinas-style harmonica and paves the way for a number of working class anthems that would not have been out of place on classic Bruce Springsteen albums. A couple of years ago, a statement like that would have consigned this album to the role of generic rock critic piñata - now, it may be a different story with The Gaslight Anthem being made cover stars by the UK rock press.
The one simple thing that makes 'Belfast Confetti' work so well is that Ricky Warwick has discovered subtlety. It is the lifeblood of this record. While the lyrics are still soaked in a venom, they are delivered in such a way that the listener cannot fail to absorb them. Tales of troubles finally have the chance to let the hope shine through. In a blinkered world stunted by uninspired remakes and rehashes, the reimagining of Ricky Warwick is complete - thankfully, positivity reigns. This album is Warwick's finest and most assured effort yet and will, like future records, be welcomed onto my stereo like the return of an old friend......
by Gaz E.
Visit the Ricky Warwick Website