One of my favourite festivals of this summer was the stunning Port Eliot down in Cornwall. Late one evening, in a walled garden where people drank wine and ate lobster by day, I sat in a rickety, wooden chair whilst Will Varley sang and strummed. It had been a lovely day but the lack of cloud cover now meant that it was a freezing night. A tear fell down my cheek.
I already knew that Will was good. I’d featured one of his early videos in one of my very first Sonic Breakfast posts over a year before. I hadn’t realised how good. It’s easy to dismiss him as a Frank Turner/Passenger copycat but that’s really not allowing yourself to open up to the absolute quality and humanity that exists within his songwriting.
Take the new single ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’. The latest release from his forthcoming album, ‘Postcards from Ursa Minor’, this is a stark, simple and yet haunting tune. The video is pretty captivating as well, especially for those of us who misspent periods of our youth in setting up domino rallies and playing the board game, Mousetrap. When you find out the reasons why Will wrote the song it stands out as tragic and timely.
This song is the story of Jose Matata, an African immigrant whose body was found in a quiet suburban street one morning after falling out of the fuselage of a British Airways plane above London in 2009, attempting to illegally gain entry to the UK.
In 2015, people are still dying in desperation, taking risks and losing their lives because they calculate that such risk is more preferable than their current lot.
As another sunny morning breaks, we pull back our curtains and try hard to blank such desperation from our minds. Another tear falls down my cheek.