Under A Sun
This release by Witness UK should have been one of the most eagerly awaited albums of this year. Having heard Before The Calm last year, and being overwhelmed with their passionate sound, I have been the counting days. I am happy to report that there is no indication of a sophomore slump with Under A Sun. If anything, the sound of the band has improved and matured with a slightly more rock sound than their initial album. Despite it all, the core strengths that made this band so impressive originally are still evident.
Blending the searing passion of The Verve and early Radiohead with the lyrical introspection of Automatic For the People-era R.E.M. and the eviscerating lyricism of Joy Division, Witness UK provides a potent alternative to the musical choices available today. Passionate without becoming pretentious, sensitive without slipping into weak-kneed sentimentality, and extremely talented, this album is overwhelming.
Witness UK continues to utilize understated arrangements to enhance their powerful songs of love and longing. In addition, lead singer Gerard Starkie has a voice that is at once powerful and sublime; he has a voice capable of conveying a depth of feeling and the nuances of their songs yet refrains from becoming blustery. On top of this, the band writes songs that are both intensely personal and yet, like the greatest of songs, capable of a wide range of interpretations. On this release, the songs seem focused on restlessness, travel and the search for shelter. Recurring themes and images appear in these songs, songs that document the wanderings of strangers and people yearning for a home. Whether the shelter be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional, the music commands and demands the listeners attention.
On top of what make strike the reader as a rather melancholy listening experience, the band displays an energetic feel that gives the songs the freedom to breathe, and dare I say, approach the status of anthems. They prove it is possible to still play guitar music without being intensely cerebral or having to rely upon rap and hip-hop to carry the workload. Comfortable in both the electronic and acoustic environments, Witness UK once again demonstrates why they are England’s best-kept musical secret.