“November Tale”/”Destinies Entwined” (November 2014)
Mike Scott’s Waterboys are a cult band from England. Their combination of English folk, American roots music, and alternative rock fit right into the alt.country movement of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Their masterpiece, 1988’s Fisherman’s Blues, influenced an entire generation that was disillusioned by hair metal, boy bands, and Bob Dylan falling off the face of the earth. But even before that they were acclaimed for lush ‘80s pop on albums like A Pagan Place. “A Girl Called Johnny” is a personal favorite from this era.
These days Scott and company (although he’s the only original member left) tour and make records sporadically. Their last album, An Appointment with Mr. Yeats, was released in 2012. They played the Fitzgerald in October 2013 and were as thrilling as ever, old classics coming off as fresh as newer material.
“November Tale”/”Destinies Entwined” is the lead single from their upcoming album Modern Blues (February 2015). Hooks haven’t been the emphasis of Scott’s songwriting for years and these two tracks continue that trend. But his gifts of melody and poetry are as strong as ever.
Violin, electric piano, and soulful, Robbie Robertson-esque guitar give “November Tale” a warm, breezy ‘70s feel. Its lyrics, a parable of universalism and rejection of the concept of sin, are dull and ordinary but are at least they're poetic. The idea that “agreeing to disagree” is a virtue is what is killing current conversation. Pretty melody, though.
The opening power chords and swelling organ of “Destinies Entwined” show immediately that it’s going to be quite different from “November.” After an interesting verse of noises, swirling synths, and faint acoustic guitars it becomes more of a standard alternative rock song with another strong melody and evocative lyric. The guitar playing is fluid and rocks, especially during the hook and a couple extended solos.
It’s always a good time for new music from the Waterboys. “November Tale” and “Destinies Entwined,” while different in many ways, are both the type of well-crafted pop/rock songs that Mike Scott and his band are known for.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.