Every now and then a particular artist strikes just the right chord in my soul. Well, I’ve just added Will Diehl to my list. I had not heard of this guy until recently. So after listening to his album a couple of times, I can tell you that each of these songs on “LOVE AND MOTION 1.0” strikes deep. There are some that strike deeper, maybe because they have some meaning to me or maybe it’s just because you can just feel what Diehl is singing. The album title has a “1.0” added because these are ‘supposedly’ first drafts, that have a ‘live’ sound mix. Diehl says that he was planning a more refined remix of the songs further on down the line. I said ‘supposedly’, because I like them just the way they are, and think any remixing may compromise their candid authenticity. But that’s just my own personal, selfish opinion.
Will Diehl While he has uses his every-man soulful voice to provide an extra layer of honesty to his introspective alt-folk and country flavors, here Will Diehl also leans more directly to those jazz, rock and pop aspects of his approach. On his latest album, Diehl is in his sweet spot, one that will prompt the more interesting “Who does he sound like?” discussions.
The truth is, he doesn’t sound quite like any other one artist, other than Will Diehl – although if you wrapped a couple of other singer-songwriters together you might come close. If under torture I was forced to choose just one voice that embodies a bit of Will Diehl’s persona, I’d have to go with Chris Rea – for timbre, tone and nonchalant offhandedness in his deliveries.
Throughout “LOVE AND MOTION 1.0”, Diehl doubles down on his distinctive style, delivering a full sound without abandoning the elegant simplicity that sets him apart from everyone else. The best musicians know when not to play, and none of the added touches of violin, mandolin and saxophone violate that rule.
The opener, “Beginning of Time”, is resplendent with violin inflections, and some brass lines reminiscent of something from the late, great Memphis Horns. Diehl’s acoustic playing sets him apart from the greats, even as he follows the silky trail they blazed.
That comes through beautifully on a striking ballad called “Lost My Heart To You”, which he builds around a surprisingly elegant bass and saxophone riff, and on the tender and melodic “Safely Back”.
All of these songs showcase Will Diehl’s ability to explore complex arranging territory without abandoning the essential simplicity of acoustic goodness. They elevate an album that broadens the range of a singer-songwriter who will never be mistaken for anyone else. And how could he?
How many artists do you know can go from the feel-good honkytonk of “Love Will Come Again” to the impassioned electric blues of “Motion (version 2)”, one track down, on the same album! Well to be honest, I can think of Eric Clapton, maybe Ry Cooder, and the late great J.J. Cale. But hey, that’s just a handful…of legends!
Will Diehl stays true to his core warm acoustic alt-folk sound throughout the album, but keeps it interesting by including the influence of a variety of genres and styles. There is something to delight the ears of all roots music lovers. Overall Diehl’s soulful voice and emotive melodies make for a great easy listening session. “LOVE AND MOTION 1.0” will warmly embrace your spirit.