Whoa Melodic’s debut album arrived early in the year, released on John Jervis’ Wiaiwya label. A seemingly unassuming collection of songs quickly growing into a delightful set of keepers; replete with melody and jangle, warm and welcoming, speaking of matters of everyday life, those ordinary emotions that through day-on-day, month-on-month, year-on-year interactions become extraordinary and unique.
Whoa Melodic is Michael Wood. You will perhaps have met him playing with Steven Adams or The Hayman Kupa Band, or heard his previously released songs as Michaelmas. This album is all him; recorded in his home studio over time. The songs built from the ground up, accretions and layers added as he went along. A big fan and acolyte of McCartney, much enamoured of that first 1970 solo album, he shares the down-to-earth perspective Macca’s evinced throughout most of his post-fab four career.
The immediately attractive ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ is an infectious paean to positivity and self-belief, its clarity and fascination drawing and holding the listener. Working from a broad palette the pattern is set of a wide variety of instrumentation often used sparingly, so it’ll surprise but not linger. Example being the little shards of harmonica on ‘Hit Me Where It Hurts’, or the organ and backing vocals of ‘To See You Again’.
The guitar intro to ‘Spring Forward Fall Back’ is enticing so it takes a little time to appreciate this is actually going to be an instrumental that simply grows, and the nearest you’ll get to a vocal will be a brief shush’ before birdsong ushers us into ‘Totally Mad’, a piano song, dripping romanticism, not a million miles away from Jimmy Webb or early Neilson Hubbard.
‘The Night Comes’ stays in that ballpark with its repeated coda; “The saddest tale you ever heard, I was ‘Love Me Do’ now I’m ‘Free As A Bird’ ”; demonstrating a propensity for a telling if understated lyric. It’s seen again in the bouncy ‘Disappointed Pessimist’ – “when I say dire straits I don’t mean the band” – riding on light but crucial organ.
The unashamed love song ‘Hopeless And Lonely’ might have escaped from a mid-70s Todd Rundgren album while ‘Ring Your Friends’ is simply sage advice, and then Whoa Melodic is done. Ten songs in just over the half-hour doesn’t linger but any brevity is more than compensated for by variety, and as you return, as you will because you can’t catch everything, so they’ll get their hooks in you.