This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Wilful Missing. The review was written by John Hepworth in 2006.
There’s some really good talent here: in the playing, the singing and the songwriting. As Kingsley Amis said about some other very pleasing things, ‘I’m clear on why I like them, thanks; but why do I like them so much?’ The answer has to be a subtle intensity in Wilful Missing’s often fragile-sounding songs written and sung by Sam Kipling, with a range of well-controlled instruments in the hands of guitarist Sam Lawrence and bass player Albert Freeman.
We’re offered a collection of eleven songs which, say the band, make not an album but a double EP. OK then, that’s what it is, and for the perfectly practical reason that it contains the fruits of two widely separated recording sessions. Could it also spring from Wilful Missing’s caution towards outlining themselves above the horizon in the shape of a First Album, when their distinctive and deeply unified sound is still developing?
They describe their stuff a little roughly as ‘between acoustic balladry and a highly charged racket.’ Best of the ballad-paced numbers in a number of ways is ‘Life For Two’. It’s very slightly jazzish, has plenty of texture, and some electric guitar which though gentle made me think of Lenny Kaye and what he can unleash. In this song (as elsewhere) the Kipling voice is delicate strong and yearning, but without the wayward tuning that sometimes seems to affect it. ‘Alone with America’ is another well-accomplished piece, ballad nearing power ballad, and showing the emotional force Sam Kipling so naturally brings in to his work. Elsewhere, when things need to rock they do it properly - in ‘Ghosts’ for instance, after wafting in on a dreamy minute’s-worth of folk-psychedelic iridescence.
Having not credited Mr K above as instrumentalist, I ought to mention the competence of his acoustic guitar as well as his other activities on the undeclared bonus track, and also on ‘DIY’ - even if the charming mandolin-flutter towards the end is not his. Such gratifying touches happen throughout, and they help to accumulate a cunning balance of relaxation and stimulation, after which you realise you’ve been impressed as well.