Some of the best indie songsmithery you'll hear in 2020...

Willie J Healey has always been a student of songcraft. An artist infatuated with music, his material is riddled with echoes of the past, but this is bound up by his infectious personality, and his brave willingness to allow his emotional life to bleed out through the music.

‘Twin Heavy’ could be Healey’s graduation ceremony. Bold and assured, it matches crisp production to a set of songs that ranks alongside some of the very best indie songsmithery you’re likely to hear in 2020. Whether he’s playfully nudging your arm or tugging at your heartstrings, Willie J Healey is a subtle voice of confession.

Opener ‘Fashun’ is an ultra-catchy power pop blaster, with its fantastic ear-worm chorus remaining lodged in your frontal lobe for days on end. ‘True Stereo’ is driven forwards by those Brendan Benson style chords, with Willie J Healey’s urgent delivery adding new intensity to his work. ‘Big Nothing’ finds Healey conjuring visions of Elliot Smith with an added dose of Elliot Smith, before the songwriter up-ends expectations by tearing it up on Lou Reed style chugger ‘Songs For Joanna’.

Sure, we could bandy around reference points all day – there’s a slew of Dexys style arrangements, alongside some McCartney-esque bubblegum – but at its core ‘Twin Heavy’ works because of the simple, frank poetry that only Willie J Healey can conjure. He may be rifling through his vinyl collection, but the emotions that propelled him there are never far away. ‘Condo’ is a dreamy, spacious blast of choral sound, while ‘Why You Gotta Do It’ finds Healey at his most exposed, his most fragile.

Wistful and wise, ‘Twin Heavy’ offers a portrait of the young man as a record collector. With his magpie-like eye for treasure and eagerness to share, Willie J Healey has conjured something special.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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