I've been meaning to get to this one for a couple of weeks, "Your Hero Is Not Dead", the debut album from West London singer-songwriter Will Westerman bka Westerman. A protege of Bullion (who helped record and produce the album), Westerman creates spare, spirited and affecting songs that explore the ambiguities and inconsistencies of modern life, all set against sonic backdrops that mine the rich histories of transatlantic soft rock, AOR and experimental pop, before rebuilding them with a cybernetic lilt perfectly suited to our increasingly unstable times.
Sidebar: a few reference points - Talk Talk, John Martyn, Arthur Russell, Connan Mockasin, Joni Mitchell, Prefab Sprout.
All of these impulses are present across the twelve songs that make up "Your Hero Is Not Dead", where aside from Bullion's delicate, syntho-realistic touch, Westerman is supported by a small army of backing vocalists, and a rich array of instrumentation including piano, guitars, synths, harpsichord, cello, oboe, bass and beyond. More of a sonic storybook than a collection of singles and album cuts, "Your Hero Is Not Dead" flourishes as a focused zone and mood - so much so that it's easy to think as an adventure, or perhaps even an animated film in the vein of director Richard Linklater's stoner-philosopher classic "Waking Life" (2001).
As his expansive, contemplative and often heavy-hearted visions play out as surrealist (more real than surreal) panoramas, one might wonder if we should consider "Your Hero is Not Dead" as a companion piece to Bullion's eerily prescient "We Had A Good Time" EP. The question "How did we get here?" is valid, but I think we all know how we got here as well.
"Your Hero Is Not Dead" is out now through Play It Again Sam/Partisan Records (purchase here)