Richard Walters new album 'Golden Veins' out today
12 June 2020
Oxford-based singer-songwriter Richard Walters is today releasing his fifth album, ‘Golden Veins’, via Cooking Vinyl; the latest addition to an extensive back-catalogue that boasts four albums (including his critically-acclaimed debut, ‘The Animal’), four EPs and numerous standalone singles and collaborations, one of which being a new band called LYR with poet laureate, Simon Armitage. The nine songs that constitute this new record – his most ambitious and personal work to date – reveal a truly original artist in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. ‘Golden Veins’ is a sublime collection of songs – including the singles ‘Kintsugi’ and ‘Big Joy’ – that shows Walters’ finely-tuned ability to effortlessly fuse tender, lo-fi minimalism with breathtaking electronic arrangements and almost-psychedelic walls of sound. In support of the album Richard will head out on a UK tour in September, including a headline show at London’s The Waiting Room on Sep 30th.
In late 2016 Walters found himself in a strange place: “I’d been making music since the age of 18, frequently full-time but occasionally not, and had hit something of a writer’s roadblock. Partnered with a slightly jaded perception of the music industry, I felt I’d come to the end of my creative run. I started considering my options and making moves away from the making of music.” In September of that year, however–one month before the release of Walters’ fourth album, ‘A.M.’–he and his wife found out they were expecting a baby. That, naturally, changed everything. “That was like a total rewiring for me,” he admits. “I didn’t have time to explore my options anymore, I just had to do what I knew, what I hoped I was good at. I went slightly mad around that time, pushing myself to write more, record more, network more and make it all line up. And it did; that was the start of a truly creatively fulfilling time in my life.”
He began digging through his collection to find the albums that had been formative for him – Cocteau Twins, Ride, Slowdive, Radiohead – and began formulating his own ideas, laid out simply with piano and vocals. He sent them to producer Patrick J Pearson, who’d send back “gorgeous, full productions.” The pair kept going back and forth, writing in their spare moments between work, father and family duties, and whatever else was happening in their personal lives. And, then, all of a sudden, it was done. What strikes you first with ‘Golden Veins’, as always happens with Walters’ albums and songs, is his voice. Ethereal and beautiful, tender yet also defiant and strong-willed, his vocals soar above these tracks, while seeming to weave their way through the fabric of them. Yet this time around, there’s one slight difference; a profound sense, despite an air of plaintive melancholy, of optimism.
“I live a really good life at the moment and I feel incredibly lucky for that, so I think that’s why the songs sound happier. But at the same time, outside of my own life, I still pickup on the overwhelming sense of anxiety in everything that’s going on in the world and it of course creeps into my writing.” That friction does indeed weave its way through this record; it can, at times, be as unsettling as it is comforting, but that conflict and contrast only serves to elevate the emotional resonance of these songs. Moreover, this collection reveals an artist who’s incredibly comfortable within his own musical skin, someone unafraid to step out of their comfort zone and explore unexpected paths. Take, for example, the rush of electronic beats that suddenly overwhelm opener ‘Dirty Empire’, the constant euphoric crescendo of ‘Big Joy’, the sonic minimalism of ‘The Dawn Chorus On Tape’, the hushed majesty of album closer ‘This is Where it Ends’.
Lyrically, Golden Veins finds Walters venturing into new territory, too; a world away from the angst and heartache that inspired his early works. ‘This Is Where It Ends’ is an imagining of “a fictional Hollywood power couple breaking up publicly, having to collapse with integrity, sympathy and empathy”, ‘Dirty Empire’ is a protest song for our current political climate, while ‘The Dawn Chorus On Tape’ chronicles his grandfather losing his sight and going into the woods to forever capture the sound of birds singing at daybreak. Elsewhere, ‘Kintsugi’ uses the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer (resulting in the golden veins of the album title) as a metaphor for his relationship with his wife, Walters’ newfound sense of creativity and inspiration and the very nature of being human.
“When she and I got together ten years ago, I was a mess. I was taking too many drugs, drinking too much, not living as well as I should, and as a result I felt very fragmented. I was broken and she put me back together,” he says: “But it’s also about rediscovering the joy in life and music again. Kintsugi is an artform that highlights imperfections and for me, when I meet new people, I’m always relieved to find out that they’ve got flaws too. Those small cracks make us more interesting and stronger.” That, if anything, is the very crux of this record. ‘Golden Veins’ is the sound of both an artist and a person reborn, re-inspired and re-invigorated, and a heartfelt reminder of just how beautiful and powerful and necessary a thing that can be.
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