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Magic, miracles, ghosts, world leaders; these days it seems there is little left to believe in. Lies outweigh truth and even truth can be dangerous. Raising everyone’s spirits Already Dead – the fourth album and the first for nine years from Willy Mason - explores honesty and deception, anonymity in the digital age, good intentions with unexpected consequences, freedom, colonialism, love, god, and purpose because, its storyteller says, now is the time to restore some much-needed faith.
“Already Dead is a spiritual state to aspire to; it is freedom from the trappings and inhibitions of one’s ego, culture, and mythology. It is freedom and love and freedom to love in the face of death,” tells Willy of the philosophy behind the writing. “It’s about the necessary destruction of one’s mythology; mythology of species, sex, race, nation, self. It’s about the pain and tragedy that comes with such destruction, but also about the freedom, possibility and opportunity for reconciliation; reconciliation with the natural world and with each other.”
Already Dead arrives at a time when certain words must be said. It is a quest for love in a society which fears and discourages it; for truth and justice in a society which prioritises convenience and profit. “I ended up diving so deeply into this record because it felt at the time, like the only way I could hope to do some good for somebody,” Willy says. “All the concern and care I have for people, fear, frustration and sadness, all came pouring out."
Sparkling opener ‘Youth On A Spit’ is one of Willy’s heaviest tracks to date; “I feel no pain I’ve already bled / You can’t kill me I’m already dead,” he taunts, through double-sided declaration of invincibility before embarking upon a biting, bold, and caring tour through the purgatory of life in 21st century North America; reaching for Heaven “The Truth is Love/The Truth is Life/The Truth is Sowing Paradise'', whilst preparing for Hell, “Things we’d do to each other/I’m worried to discover” (Gilded Lie). All the while pleading and appealing to one’s nation as if to a wayward lover; “oh my country/you were born/as a branch from a tree of thorns/of poison apple poison tree/you’ve fallen far but roots run deep” (Oh My Country). Even those considering themselves above suspicion cannot hide: “Wilfully ignorant/a false equivalence/smitten with shame/a pawn in the game” (One Of The Good Ones).
Voyaging across the cracks of a bleak and crumbling landscape, beauty begins to blossom as Already Dead casts new shades of meaning when applied to a society and culture teetering on the edge between reinvention and dissolution. Hope, without promise, develops into its own suspended resolution with ripping album closer ‘Worth It’ and looks towards reaching a definitive destination after the soldiering on of early LPs Carry On (2012) and If the Ocean Gets Rough (2007); “The seed and the sowing/the need and the growing/the hope and the hatred/the faith and the sacred/the thief and the servant/the fazed and the fervent/I Know It’s Worth It”.
After seeing the world on countless tours and supporting independent music communities, Willy’s next move looks to be even greater. “Already Dead captures the feeling of these times and I’m trying to give people encouragement, whatever that may be or look like,” he says. Here lies unquestionable truth; life might be uncertain, but to be Already Dead is just the beginning.
Barry says: It's been a long wait since the last Willy Mason LP but 'Already Dead' perfectly epitomises what we've come to know and love from Willy. Brimming with folky restraint, but imbued with a cinematic intensity, these are cleverly written and brilliantly played earworms.
1. Youth On A Spit
2. You’d Like To Be Free
3. Gilded Lie
5. Oh My Country
7. One Of The Good Ones
8. Outwit The Devil
9. If There’s A Heart
10. Worth It