New WET WET WET album, 'The Journey'Posted by: Sam Pegg
We listened and reviewed the brand new WET WET WET album with Kevin Simms, along with track by track stories and further information.
The Journey is the new album from Wet Wet Wet, their seventh LP but the first with singer Kevin Simm. Released on November 5th, it features the singles Back To Memphis & The Conversation. All twelve tracks on The Journey were written and recorded during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021; a process that the band at times found pushed them to their very limits, but the result is an album with the soul, feel and strength of songs that the band’s debut ‘Popped In Souled Out’ has.
It is a great bounce back for Wet Wet Wet and Kevin Simms after a tough couple of years with the global pandemic. After listening to the 12 track album we felt it was very well produced, uplifting and the whole album is very diverse. Each song has a unique sound to the other and we appreciated what they have done with incorporating a difference in experience for each one. It feels as though they’ve had so much fun making this LP, evident in the feel good nature of the songs.
It’s an easy listening and current album and listeners will be encouraged about the return of Wet Wet Wet with the addition of Kevin Simms also on vocals. ‘The Journey’ is a smooth and relaxing album whilst also equally maintaining a joyous and jubilant feel to the songs.
We're excited to see the response that their LP will have on other listeners and know that it will not disappoint. We highly recommend the album and are excited ahead of its release on 5 November. The LP is available for pre-order, links are further into the article.
Writing and recording during a worldwide pandemic and national lockdowns set Wet Wet Wet a unique set of challenges, bassist Graeme Clark elaborates “The way we would typically work is somebody has a piano line or something if you're all there together, that works, but what happens when you can't all come together?”
For singer Kevin Simm, who was writing and recording with the band for the very first time, the process was particularly tricky “It’s a testament to the talent within the band and willingness as well to just do it, to suck it up and commit to writing and recording this way. Some people just wouldn't entertain the thought of not going in the studio and not having that luxury of someone else doing everything for you”.
During the first few writing sessions over Zoom and FaceTime the band developed a way of working that they would continue with for the rest of the album. Graeme Clark “The easiest way to describe what
happened with The Journey is that people were bringing in half or three quarter finished songs and then throwing it over to the rest of the band.”
WET WET WET
RELEASED NOVEMBER 5TH 2021 AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW https://slinky.to/TheJourney
TRACK BY TRACK BY THE BAND
BACK TO MEMPHIS
Graeme Clark - After a gig one night, Kevin was coming off stage, and he was singing “Georgia On My Mind at the top of his lungs because he was excited, and it really touched me. So when we started writing songs over Zoom, I said to him maybe we should try and do something like that. We had the chords for the song, but I thought perhaps because we’re stuck here in the UK, wouldn't it be great to go somewhere else in a song? So that was the song's concept. We all went to Memphis when we were starting off, so the song sort of makes Wet Wet Wet come full circle; it's like a declaration of intent to open the album.
Kevin Simm - When Graeme and I were writing this song, the Memphis thing kind of came along, and it became a big thing. It feels almost a little weird that I was writing that song because I wasn't there at the beginning of the journey.
Tommy Cunningham - It's an analogy; it's about getting back to your roots. Even today, when we hear a fresh new song on the radio, you're always looking for that one element, as an emotional connection here is something that has soul. Going Back To Memphis is a statement of intent; we are taking you on a journey, it's our journey, and it's all about soul.
Neil Mitchell - Because of this song, I've kind of been taken back to Memphis when we recorded there with Willie Mitchell, all the memories of that time and how what we learned has held us in good stead throughout our career. I think it was Kevin who came up with the idea of Memphis, not us, who were actually there!
Graeme Clark – I wrestled with a song, it went out to the guys, and they came back saying there was something good about it, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it. It has this slightly clumsy, almost circus kind of music in it. It's sort of slightly like Randy Newman, a pop melody but with a darker lyric about when we were all first locked down were all being told that musicians and artists would have to re-train. I'm not an overtly political being, but I think when you're pushed into a corner, if you can't write a song about that, then you shouldn't really be doing this job. I was thinking about Kevin. He's been told he can't work; luckily, he's joined us but without that, who knows what he’d have to do to put bread on the table. To me it was like, suddenly we’re thrown under the bus, thankfully we’re alright in relation to a lot of other people so that enabled me to go and write that song. It's just my point of view; I'm not trying to change people's minds here, I'm just showing them something, and they can take it on board if they want.
Kevin Simm - As soon as I heard this one, I loved it, it has a little bit of a Shine by Take That feel to it, but the lyrics are just not at all like that. It’s quite an angry lyric about what was going on during lockdown.
Neil Mitchell - This is one of my favourites. To be honest with you, Graeme Clark pretty much played all the parts but just I kind of wanted to play a piano solo and because usually Graham Duffin plays the solos.
Tommy Cunningham - On Popped In Souled out the was a song called I Don't Believe, which was about getting stopped in the street and about the Sus Laws (the Police's ability to stop and search a person they thought might be a vagrant). So, even then, if you go back, we had things like that hidden inside pop songs.
Kevin Simm - Despite being from a Northern Town, I didn't write this one. Graeme played me the basis of this when we were rehearsing for our last gigs. I mean, obviously, just with having the title Northern Town, it appealed to me straight away.
Tommy Cunningham - If you think about it, Glasgow is a Northern Town, and within England, Kevin's a Northerner, so straightaway it struck me as being all this is about Oh, is this a bit of a background, this is about where we are from this is about the roots, the beginnings.
Neil Mitchell – Again, Graeme had done quite a lot on this as well, I played some parts, but I thought it's done; leave it the way it is. It's scary sometimes to listen back to some of your stuff, and there's so much music on there, we kind of didn't do that this time and left things alone.
Graeme Clark – I'm from the North of Britain, but we don't talk about like that; we don't say we’re northern. All countries have Northern towns, it's a good concept for a song, and I knew Kevin would get it also being from a Northern town.
SILVER & GOLD
Graeme Clark – Something I love in this song is that when I sent the lyrics over to Kevin, my spellchecker had changed some words, so that's what Kevin sang, and they sounded so much better. I would love to take the credit for it, but these are all kind of happy accidents, and it totally changes the meaning and feel of the song. There was also a line in the song about shadows and silhouettes, I thought it had a nice imagery about it, but Kevin came back to me and said it sings much better if you just say shadows. So sometimes lyrics look great on paper but just don't sing well.
Neil Mitchell - That was one of the ones we worked on quite early on; I'm surprised that more people weren't kind of vibing for it, but as Kevin said, it sort of sneaks up on you. I really like this one.
Kevin Simm - I always thought that this was one of the catchiest songs on the album and probably if more like what I would say is like a Wet Wet Wet song. It just sounds like it could be their old classic songs. It was also like one of the first ones to be finished, so I've lived with this one a lot more than the rest. My kids sing along to that one as well. So it's like, that's always a good sign!
I'd heard Kevin sing a Lady Gaga track backstage one night, and it sounded incredible; I said to him, take the energy of that and put it with this bunch of chords that are totally different, almost folky like Mumford & Sons, and we came up with something completely new. No one would ever relate those two songs or those two ideas, but we just wanted to try some cross-pollination. It's us trying to do these things, getting it all wrong, and suddenly we’ve got something new.
Tommy Cunningham - One of the ways we communicate when a song is first written, everyone says 'you know the one that's a bit like that?' and that's kind of what you do. And this was the 'Mumford and Sons' one but to me its all Celtic soul. As soon as you get the first two chords, your foot starts stomping, and you go, Oh, that's what it does, it just makes you tap along and make you get in the groove, there's a real Celtic connection with it.
Kevin Simm - It just started off with a Mumford and Sons kind of guitar part that Graeme was playing. I like this one a lot because I couldn’t hear this kind of song on any of the previous Wet Wet Wet albums. It's just got a cool vibe to it.
COLD BLACK COFFEE BLUES
Graeme Clark - I love that kind of late-night jazz sound; it's something that as you become more professional, you learn to appreciate more. I'm not a jazz musician by any stretch of the imagination, but when the chords came around, I could hear double bass on it and the strings. It's our version of one of these late-night New York nightclubs in the 50s. We didn’t make it perfect, but I think it was right to keep the imperfections as it lends itself to that vibe.
Tommy Cunningham - I've always loved drumming with brushes even though it always made me go, oh god, we're going into jazz territory, but I actually learned to embrace it from a very young age. I love the feel of it for some reason, the whisper of playing with upright bass and tinkling piano Sometimes, the whisper is louder than the scream, and it gives so much space for Kevin's voice; it gives him grace and space.
Neil Mitchell - This one took us ages. It's probably the best-arranged song on the whole album. It took us a while to get the intro, but when we finally got that part the rest just sort of fell into place.
Kevin Simm - It's kind of turned into my favourite song because watching the song's development, from where it was at the beginning to where it is now, the jazz cafe vibe of it was great. I really didn't think it would be my favourite one. And then, all of a sudden it wass.
IF I DON’T HAVE LUV
Graeme Clark – I feel that this and Beautiful Sunshine are related somehow like cousins or something, they both have this lovely summery vibe about them. I think If I Don't Have Luv is my favourite Kevin vocal on the album; there's a bit in the middle with a Stevie Wonder type progression, and it turns the song on its head. He lifts the whole song up. I don't want to eulogise how amazing a singer he is, but he really nails this and gets it somewhere special
Neil Mitchell – I kind of wanted this and Beautiful Sunshine to come out in the Summer so that people can hear them and just be joyful in the sunshine, especially with all that's occurred in the world.
Kevin Simm - This was one of the first songs Graeme sent over to me, but it got put on the back burner, and it ended up that that was the last one that I decided to work on. I started playing with the melodies, and it just kind of like grabbed. I love this track, you know. It's just so Summery and has a nice vibe about it and a great energy to it.
Kevin Simm - The great thing about being in this band is I would get just an acoustic guitar to sing on, and then in like two weeks or something, I get the track back, and it was fully produced and completely different. I don't want to sound like ‘all the tracks are my favourites, but I do love Beautiful Sunshine.
Kevin Simm - I wrote this with Richard Drury and James Walsh from Starsailor. I wrote like my first my first solo album with Richard, and we've stayed friends. When we started talking about writing for The Journey, I got the parts off Richard, and I kind of rewrote it a bit and finished it off and got it to a standard where I felt like I could play it to the lads and they loved it"
IN YOUR EYES
Graeme Clark – It’s been interesting to see what songs people gravitate towards, and this has been one of those. I had a rough melody and sent it to Kevin, and when it comes back, he's taken it to a whole other place, he’s touching the soul of a song and inhabiting it, but not only that he got hold of it by the scruff of the neck and really drives this part of the song home. For me, every section of that song moves up until it can't go any further. One of the last elements to go on there was the slide guitar, and that goes all the way back to Love Is All Around, which was the first time we used it.
Kevin Simm - This is another one that just took on a life of its own and developed into something that it completely wasn't at the beginning. I love the change where it’s quite soft and goes a bit rocky.
Neil Mitchell - That was a ballsy thing to have that 'Beatles' sort of chord at the beginning, but that's Graeme. He can have wacky ideas, like when the song goes a bit 'rock'. I think that was actually the one the last one that I played. It's quite a crazy song.
Tommy Cunningham - It's such a dynamic song so soft, so simple until it gets a minute and a half in, and then it just takes off a different direction, and then all of a sudden, it just drops right back down. It's probably the most straightforward and direct song on the album. I guess it's an acknowledgement we need other people in your life to make things work.
Tommy Cunningham - About two years ago, I was sitting in a bar, and a guy in his late 20s was playing come acoustic guitar, and he started playing these simple three chords, so I said, you need to come and see me. Two days later, I said, just put down what you played in the bar, I arranged it and we wrote it together, and then it just sat there. The co-writer, Michael was never going to do anything with it, and I'm a drummer so I'm never going to do anything with it, and then when the album came up, I just put it forward.
Kevin said I want to do this, it sounds like something I think I can deliver on, you know, something that I think I can sing and have emotion. So, it was an absolute joy to have sent
him a purely simple little piano part that I knew would get replaced by because I have like farmers' hands on a keyboard.
The big thing for me was, I knew what I was up against from a songwriting point of view, so I went the opposite way, I wanted it simple. I don't want anything fancy on it at all, I don't want a guitar solo, I don't want the piano standing out. I don't want the drums to stand out. I want the vocal to stand out. Hopefully, what happens again is that the whisper is louder than the scream. Graham Duffin coined the phrase that it's the best wedding song he's ever heard!
Michael Gallagher, who co-wrote the song, isn't a professional songwriter. He works in a care home for the elderly, so he's had a trauma and a half during the pandemic. When we finished it, I drove down to the care home so he could hear the song loud on my car's stereo, and he just went, wow, thank you so much. I said no, thank you, you started this whole process. He feels so privileged to be to have musicians playing his song.
Graeme Clark - This sort of harkens back to my love of artists like Jackson Browne. I think It's that Americana, soft rock almost like The Eagles kind of sound going on there. It was an excellent way to end the album, as it was kind of the last song that was written. There was a funny moment on the original vocal where Kevin was coughing at the beginning. I like those kinds of 'mistakes' on records and wanted to leave it in there. I thought we'll look back on this at some point and laugh about it and be reminded of where we were. So anyway, to cut to the chase, I got outvoted, and the cough was cut.
Tommy Cunningham - That song really does get me. I've got back into The Band again during the pandemic and just the fact that they're in a room and just playing a song. There's a craft, and there's a discovery that is still taking place we're getting to express things we've never done before.
Kevin Simm - The difficult thing sometimes if you've not written a song yourself is that it can be in a lower key or a different type of voice. With Colours I wasn't sure if I could sing it, but on the final version I almost feel like I sound a bit more like a country singer in a way.
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