The Waterboys – Book Of Lightning (2007): Review

waterboys

Produced by Mike Scott & Philip Tennant
Label – Puck

2007 saw Mike Scott in rude health. Off the radar for a while, the year saw his return to the distinctive voice, adept lyrics, whimsical Celtic verve, and a reminder that his collective were as formidable as many of his 80s peers. The following decade saw Scott’s releases becoming increasingly “selective”, taking in more of the Irish folk that had been previewed on “Fisherman’s Blues”. It was an honest strategy that was well received by the purists, but diminished his mainstream appeal. “Book Of Lightning” is the perfect compendium of both traditional references and epic rock, matched up with some of the most insistent melodies and quality musical performances. Recorded mainly in London’s Sarm studios, regular Waterboys cohorts Steve Wickham (fiddle) and Richard Naiff (keyboards), are joined by familiar session musicians, in particular Leo Abrahams, who provides some soaring guitar moments.

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Lyrically, Scott is as personal as your brother as he confides in you his stories of relationship breakdown (“She Tried To Hold Me”, “Love Will Shoot You Down”), facing adversity (“Sustain”), and willfully snaring an unfortunate girl into un-returned love (“Everybody Takes A Tumble”). The heartland rock of “The Crash Of Angels Wings” and “Love Will Shoot You Down” are a refreshing prelude to the richly familiar second half of the disc which delves in the evocative Dylanesque folk of “Everybody Takes A Tumble”, “Strange Arrangement”, “Sustain” and “The Man With The Wind At His Heels”. Wickham’s string embellishments add a natural authenticity as Scott sings with uplifting passion and rare vitality. For those willing to take the plunge and invest in “Book Of Lightning”, expect an album that rivals any of their 80s works.

One can vouch the album didn’t make much of a dent in the charts, but it deserved to be bought by the crate load.

8/10

Track Listing

“The Crash of Angel Wings” – 4:02
“Love Will Shoot You Down” – 4:34
“Nobody’s Baby Anymore” – 4:43
“Strange Arrangement” – 3:33
“She Tried to Hold Me” – 7:18
“It’s Gonna Rain” – 3:03
“Sustain” – 3:21
“You in the Sky” – 4:38
“Everybody Takes a Tumble” – 7:05
“The Man With the Wind at His Heels” – 3:04

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