Album Review: Willie J Healey // Twin Heavy

Willie’s sophomore albums sees the songwriter growing into himself and delivering tracks with a renewed sense of self-assurance.

“You’re gunna be a big star, honey,” rings the chorus of ‘Fashun’, “a real household name.”
Despite its upbeat delivery, this refrain from Twin Heavy’s opening track is shaded with a sobering sense of self-awareness.

Willie was released from his major label contract at Sony following 2017’s People and Their Dogs, and – as the artist recently explained to NME –  the chorus of ‘Fashun’ is about “making fun of the people that say that stuff and people that don’t understand how it really works.”

Following his departure from Sony, Willie began his partnership with Yala! Records. The Label, which is headed by the Maccabees’ Felix White, is making a meaningful dent in the world of UK Indie, with recent releases from Talk Show, Egyptian Blue and The Magic Gang under their belts.

The three years since Healey released his lovelorn debut has seen the songwriter cultivate a more mature, confident outlook in his songs. Tracks such as ‘Songs For Joanna’ and ‘Why You Gotta Do It’ are sung from a position of wisdom, with ‘True Stereo’ and ‘For You’ hitting a genuine crooner-esque swagger.

Production came from Loren Humphreys (The Last Shadow Puppets, Tame Impala, Florence & The Machine), for which the New-Yorker travelled to Eastbourne with Willie, to lay the album down on tape. Both producer and production technique have left deep fingerprints on Twin Heavy, with a vein of sophisticated Lounge-Indie running throughout the release.

Tracks such as ‘Twin Heavy’ and ‘Thousand Reasons’ showcase Healey’s fondness for ballads, the latter of which could fit seamlessly into any of John Lennon’s early solo LPs. In fact, this release demonstrates Willie leaning into his influences more wholeheartedly than ever before. From the Classic Pop of George Harrison and Elvis Costello, to Alex Turner’s wistful Submarine EP – Twin Heavy adopts a grown-up tone that will stand up in years to come.

Long-time fans of Willie’s work will have every right to bemoan the loss of innocence in his tone. The vulnerability shown in old tracks such as ‘Subterraneans’ and ‘Bye Big Moon’ undeniably makes way for the artist’s new, self-assured demeanour – but that doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t sparks of tenderness to be found.

Album closer ‘Caroline Needs’ is full to the brim with a sense of empathy, and the use of a choir in ‘Condo’ elevates the sense of emotion in the LP.

Artists like Willie are not cut out for the fickle turnaround of a major-label. Having made himself at home at one of the UK’s most promising Indie startups, Healey is now primed for a career of longevity, with an ever-growing songbook under his belt. Forget fashun statements, this sound is timeless.

Rating

Author avatar
Matt Ganfield

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