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Songs For Walter debut record is released on highly limited gatefold clear vinyl and digipack CD – both come with a unique set of polaroid photos
They say youth is wasted on the young. It’s something Walter, the late grandfather of guitar-wielding and song-writing troubadour of Manchester based Laurie Hulme, would probably have agreed with. As nom-de-plume Songs For Walter, Laurie’s eponymous debut album is a record that’s as much a brutally honest tribute to the legacy of Walter, as it is a stirring portrayal of Songs For Walter himself.
“I was very close to Grandad but we did fall out briefly in 2006,” Laurie recalls, referring to album track ‘Competition, Diffidence and Glory.’ “I went to lots of protests at that time and Walter was not impressed. He called me an anarchist and accused me of damaging the fabric of society. He later wrote me a letter of apology saying he was wrong.”
The album is an astute melodic recounting of his grandfather’s wildly curious tales. Whether telling of Walter’s dabbling with communism in the 1930s (‘Useless’), his hatred of space travel (‘Moon/Two Out Of Ten’) or his love story from first date (‘Meet Me At The Empire’) to being painted head to toe in iodine on his wedding day (‘Purple Blue’), it’s only when those snapshots are brought together through Songs For Walter’s accomplished musicianship that the picture is completed.
Marked with all the scrapes, dents, and surface noise of real life, the record was written in Laurie’s car as he filled time between the school guitar lessons he continues to teach each week. And reinforcing the album’s DIY feel, it wasn’t recorded in a studio; it was laid down in bedrooms, living rooms, corridors, bathrooms and cellars. “That definitely adds some variety and scruffiness to it” he notes. “Looking back I wouldn’t have recorded it any other way.”
Inherent perfectionism and different locations aside, Songs For Walter is the fruit of five years’ labour. Laurie and co-producer cousin Ed Hulme (Working For A Nuclear Free City) had to squeeze the record’s completion in between their additional musical exploits Beat The Radar, Golden Glow, and cover acts of Laurie’s favourite bands Sonic Youth (Phonic Poop) and The Smashing Pumpkins (The Cash-in Pumpkins). It lends to the record’s vastly divergent take on alternative folk through placing dreamy lo-fi meanderings (the poetic nuance of Nick Drake inspired ‘Nicks Song’ and ‘Watch The Dogs’ Bill Callahan/Smog style thematic imagery) alongside indie rock punch (‘Dunkirk’s driven 90s rock sound recalling The Lemonheads or Dinosaur Jr).
Following the release of his debut EP on Red Deer Club, which won him praise from BBC 6music’s Tom Ravenscroft, Steve Lamacq, Jarvis Cocker and Lauren Laverne, and bolstered with a full live band, Laurie has spent the last twelve months bringing the songs to life with live performances around the country.
With the release of the album in January there are exciting times ahead, but with Laurie’s relentless work ethic (already he’s working on his next ‘heavier’ project), get your ears around this before the wind changes. “I spent a long time deciding what to call the record. I may not do another under the Songs For Walter moniker: I like the way it documents this period in time and the subject matter.” Clearly these are songs that emerge only once a generation.
1. Tougher Than A Soldier’s Boots
2. Nick’s Song
3. Stamping On Snails
6. Meet Me At The Empire
7. The Joint World Record Holders
8. Purple Blue
9. Moon/Two Out Of Ten
10. The Three Legged Race
11. Flowers On The Windowsill
12. Competition, Diffidence And Glory
13. Final Project