William the Conqueror, aka Ruarri Joseph, played the Just So Festival at Rode Hall last year and his show was so impressive that he and it are tied together in the Review Corner collective memory. He was so good we bought two of his solo albums, second hand.
In his youth (he was taking his daughter to see Justin Bieber after his Rode Hall gig, we seem to remember, so he’s no whipper snapper), he signed a deal with a major record label and big things were anticipated; he supported people like Paulo Nutini and David Gray. Then he soured at the commoditisation of artists and walked away from it all. He’s carried on recording since but on a more DIY scale; he’s either got more control this time or realised that the money he can make from an album is better than having to work until 88 and rely on a state pension.
Having a review copy of his new CD was so pleasing we were never going to give it a bad review but it’s even better than we thought it would be. He’s writes interesting tunes, he’s got a good voice, he’s got a good band behind him and there’s a nice mix of earnestness and a chilled surfer vibe (he lives in Cornwall).
Musically it’s an acoustic mix of Americana, folk and blues. He doesn’t really sound like anyone else but possibly somewhere between Kings Of Leon, Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes. Well worth checking out. If you want a criticism, he doesn’t change his sound much, though he flits between genres and the album does vary.
Buy from his website or somewhere indie. If all else fails, here: