Marty Willson-Piper was a founding member of the legendary Australian band The Church – an iconic and much loved figure with his rock star image, hooped earrings, paisley shirts and Rickenbackers. His was an integral part of the sixties jingle jangle guitar sound that heavily influenced an international movement with bands such as REM.
While The Church improbably emerged from the sleepy capital of Australia, Canberra, both Willson-Piper and singer/bass player and main songwriter Steve Kilbey were UK born, and Willson-Piper moved back to Europe during the band’s commercial heyday (Sweden, the UK and now Portugal). So integral was his role in The Church, his eventual departure from the band left many fans bereft and feeling the band had lost a huge part of its soul, a feeling further exacerbated by the more recent departure of Peter Koppes. Whether or not you agree, Willson-Piper was, nonetheless, at the very heart of the band’s most beautiful and iconic period of creativity.
In the intervening years, Willson-Piper has continued to make music – collaborating with musicians around the world while maintaining a fascinating blog that details his day to day life as a wandering musician and artist. MOAT is one such collaboration with composer and multi-instrumentalist Niko Röhlcke, and they have announced a new album ‘Poison Stream’ due out on 12 February 2021. This has been preceded by a brilliant and evocative a new single in anticipation – ‘Helpless You’. Niko Röhlke is in Swedish band Weeping Willows.
‘Helpless You’ rings out like a bell – there is a bluesy, folksy spine but above all a crystalline shimmer that sparkles and shines. Instrumentation is layered and nuanced – strings pluck and swoon, while the guitars, as would be expected, jangle with a pristine clarity. Willson-Piper’s voice has a tender toughness about it – distinct and recognisable (he took the helm in The Church for a few songs), it is cool and laid back.
The song is infused with a romantic melancholy and yearning with its celestial choruses and harmonies.
And all the stars Are shards of glass As they fall and you hide Till they pass So sad, helpless you
The accompanying video has images collected by Willson-Piper’s wife Olivia who also contributes violin and backing vocals to the track. It’s a gorgeous and rich tapestry:
Absolutely exquisite music and imagery..
‘Poison Stream’ comes out next week (12 February 221) and will be available on Bandcamp – watch out for a review.