Will Diehl – “Days of Summer” – Every line casts an indelible image

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What is remarkable about Will Diehl is not simply that he’s one of the finest, thoughtful underground singer-songwriters around, but the fact that over the course of his career, he has staying true to his essential folk-rock and Americana core while, incredibly, continuing to break new ground. Now on his latest album, “Days of Summer”, we get to hear the most celestial and melodious vocals he’s ever committed to record. The songs themselves blend elements of pop, folk and even jazz and psychedelic rock, to produce an otherworldly, yet intimate set.

As always the lyrics, focused and penetrating, deft, emblematic and carefully crafted, show Diehl to be a real observer in the truest sense. A writer whose eye for telling detail and innate sense of language, has once again produced verses that, stripped of the music, could easily find a life of their own on the printed page. But that’s only part of the story…

Will Diehl’s voice is made for story and verse, and these last few months of awkward and uncertain living conditions due to Covid-19, have certainly fueled Will’s fervent storytelling aptitude. “Sitting and staring out the window, like everything you miss exists outside. Stopping in your tracks, you still hear footsteps. Memories and myths and truths collide,” is how he opens the album with the song, “Spin”. The eloquent keys and guitars are joined by the affecting cello of Cremaine Booker to produce a moving piece.

This is followed by the lead single, and title track, “Days of Summer”, which features Lydia Salnikova of backing vocals and B. Oss on drums, in an oscillating organic arrangement. “Inside dreaming of the days of summer. May those days return to your life soon,” sings Diehl. His airy voice floating on an astral plane.

On the contrary, “Wash Your Hands”, rides on steady rhythm and a gritty down to earth vocal. “Wash your hands, or we’re all gonna die. Wash your hands, don’t stick them in your eye,” sings Will, completing the survival instructions on the spacey “Soft Yellow Light”:  “Step this way, there’s a line on the floor. Keep your space, stand in line. Only one at a time.”

This is an exceptional album by Will Diehl, and very different than anything that he has done before. “Clouds” is soulfully embellished by the saxophones and flutes of Ofer Peled, while Lydia Salnikova’s backing vocals again supply superb support for Will’s heartfelt lead melody. This slow-burner, is one of the best tracks of the bunch.

“There are no masks within this room, nothing to see. Don’t tread on me. We’ll drink another Kool Aid to destiny. Yeah hey you’re only human,” leads in the poignant “Only Human” which features Annie Leeth on violin. Every line casts an indelible image, as the haunting vocals and the sweeping orchestration completes the atmospheric arrangement.

The album closes with another standout track – the intense “Say Their Name” – with Will Diehl again handling guitars, keyboards and lead vocals, which he does across the entire album.

“It’s time to go, but we can’t leave. There’s so much noise that I can’t hear you now. There’s so much sorrow, we can’t grieve…” The guitars are abrasive and fierce, while Will’s voice soars with emotion and energy. Fiery tones and otherworldly shades are perfectly placed to create this masterpiece.

While each song stands on its own, it’s in listening to the album, “Days of Summer”, in its entirety that you will discover the true beauty and real craftsmanship of Will Diehl. A brilliant work. Will’s voice is in fine shape and the instrumentation is beautiful. This is a captivating album, with an extremely relatable narrative and sounds authentically refreshing in this age of easily disposable music.

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