Willie J Healey - Twin Heavy
Willie J Healey says he’s from the armpit of Oxfordshire. Certainly, this album conjures up the image of sweaty armpits, nervously penning a first love song in his parent’s garage. But there’s more to Healey’s sophomore album; Twin Heavy is nostalgia drenched, unpretentious pop drawing from every feel good genre the ‘70s has to offer.
It’s been made clear across the board that Twin Heavy has two creative powerhouses behind it. Alongside Willie J Healey, producer Loren Humphries comes dropping names from every pocket. Florence and the Machine, Tame Impala, and a specialisation in 70’s anthems that inspired much of this album’s nostalgia explains why it flits between Madness, Neil Young, and Iggy Pop. It plays out like sepia hued flashbacks of summer, ’76 through ’78, discovering what love and heartbreak and responsibility means.
Healey has a reputation for being an easy-going, down to earth guy, and his music is what the kids might call ‘relatable’. Song for Joanna is a Summer of 69 style dedication to a first love, and Why You Gotta Do It revisits all the old clichés about money, success, and sex - “money can’t make you handsome, but it sure can get you a lay”. It’s also for these reasons I think that Healey’s maturity is evident: this is an album for the young creatives, not about being seventeen but about looking back on that age, recognising their growth and knowing they still have a ways to go. It’s not hard to see the parallels with Healey’s own life, as after university he had a stop-start career as a plasterer, butcher, and then a musician. His story isn’t unique, but it sure is reassuring.
This is an album that suits someone with Healey’s dry humour. He admits there are easter eggs of darkness hidden in his lyrics, like Heavy Traffic’s “when you sleep, you die a little”. Healey’s openly wondered if these nuggets are him selfishly pushing his unfiltered edge back into the music: it makes sense for an album that doesn’t shy aware from ‘People and Their Dog’s garage rock feeling. If Willie J Healey’s music sounds crusty around the edges, you should assume that’s entirely intentional. This goes twice for Twin Heavy, as Healey and Humphries intentionally recorded everything on tape, diligently rewinding, rerecording, and embracing Humphries’ ‘purist’ approach to music.
In Willie J Healey’s words, “If you never play a gig but sit at home each night playing guitar and it makes you happy, in my book you’ve won”. In listening to his love letter to 70’s Americana, psychedelia, and Brit pop, everyone wins.