It's a marvel that I was introduced to Will Stratton purely by chance; a stray tweet from Knox Road advertising the upcoming release of Post-Empire piqued my interest and directed me to Stratton's Bandcamp where a two song preview wait for me. Honestly enough, on my first couple listens to the full album upon its release date, the tracks that most jumped out at me were the first two - the tracks that had hooked me in the first place.
And yet as I listened to the album again and again, I couldn't deny my enjoyment of the album as a whole. "You Divers" functions as a rather exceptional prelude to the collection of plainsy, windswept tunes of Post-Empire and "When You Let Your Hair Down to Your Shoulder" grabbed me with its Marling-esque inflections but the whole album is a rich, nuanced work of talent. As evidenced by the aforementioned "You Divers" with its almost 3 minute instrumental introduction, Stratton displays a careful attention to detail and patient plotting that benefits the album greatly in the long run. Post-Empire becomes an album that sort of sneaks up on you after catching you in its web of brilliant finger-picked melodies and bewitching vocal harmonies. Slowly you become aware of the man's uncanny ability for heartwarming poetic lyricism and Stratton's own tenor pleasantly initiates you into his realm of delicate folk hymns.
Post-Empire is an album that doesn't rely on catchiness at least not outright. It's undeniably memorable but not from a poppy approach. No, instead Stratton draws you in with the abundance of talent both compositional and lyrical that radiates from each song. Post-Empire is an album that does what it wants in exactly the time it wants to do so and manages to take its place as one of the best folk albums of the year as a result. While the foursome of "At The Table of Styx", "If You Wait Long Enough", "The Relatively Fair" and album closer "Mercury Id Blues" form a rather impressive lead out, the album takes its time getting there with the cascading riffs of "Tell Me, Where Do I Begin?" and the most notably story-driven track on the album, "Colt New Marine". It's these middle tracks where Stratton's lyrical prowess becomes the most important, driving the songs more than the arrangements. Will Stratton should certainly be proud of such a majestically aurally pleasing endeavor and we should all be in awe.
Listen to Will Stratton's Post-Empire here or on Spotify: