Atwood Magazine looks at life through a different lens, with help from British singer/songwriter Maria Wilman and her debut album, ‘Dark Horse.’
Stream: ‘Dark Horse’ – Maria Wilman
British singer/songwriter Maria Wilman has a beautiful way of looking at the world.
Her debut album, Dark Horse, is like a book of wise words, narrating the lessons she’s learnt and the experiences she’s endured throughout her life. Having only just jumped into her music career in her fifties, Wilman has lived an entirely different life prior in psychology, allowing her to infuse her songwriting with a completely unique mindset than many others.
The new twelve-track release is an incredible listening experience both sonically and thematically, with Wilman delving into narratives that we don’t always stop to think about in the hustle and bustle of our modern day lives.
Encouraging you to take a minute to slow down, look inwards and truly think about the world we live in, Dark Horse is a thought-provoking release which demands attention.
Inside Dark Horse
Kickstarting the album is the catchy “Full Circle,” a perfect representation of who Maria Wilman is. Throughout the album, you will notice a pattern. Wilman loves to talk about time and how things are never linear. This track in particular hones in on that theme, and how as we journey through life, we start to notice that all elements of our existence, both physical and spiritual, mix together, like a big bubbling, delicious melting pot and eventually it becomes a full circle. The songwriter shares, “Sometimes we write songs that echo back a message we didn’t quite get at the beginning. It repeats itself like a mantra. Love was there from the beginning, spinning in an ever ending eternal sequence, interrelating everything. As you keep trusting your heart…”
“Man With A Dream”
“Man With A Dream” is an upbeat tune with jangly guitars and a foot stomping rhythm. Written about someone she admired who had determination and strength to pursue their dreams, Wilman ponders how we’re all simple creatures longing for more.
Delivering a slightly more melancholy tone to the album is “January Gone.” Beautifully somber, the artist admits how letting go and saying goodbye can be some of the hardest things we have to do. As humans it’s natural to cling on to the things that are familiar in our lives, but sometimes it can actually be healthier to look forward with a positive and hopeful lens. Wilman speaks about the pain that comes with bereavement, as well as the silver lining of being able to find new paths with our new normality. The addition of a stunning string section adds extra emotion into this track, that will leave you feeling all warm inside.
“Roll Your Soul”
Picking things back up again is the rocky and raucous “Roll Your Soul.” With crashing percussion and gritty guitars, this fast-paced tune showcases yet another side to the songwriter. Realizing that we all have inner-demons that are fueled by our negative thoughts, Wilman speaks about the need to confront them, whether that be through facing difficult truths, making sacrifices, or dealing with the consequences of our actions. These are all risks worth taking in order to explore our endless possibilities.
“Through Your Eyes”
Lyrically, “Through Your Eyes” is very introspective, as Wilman looks within and realizes how she often treats others better than herself. We’ve all been there before. Trying to fight off our self-loathing and self-condemnation, but it’s easier said than done. For Wilman, she just wants to be seen, heard and understood and Dark Horse seems to be the catalyst for this to be resolved. “Sometimes we see others with greater compassion than the one we grant ourselves,” explains Wilman. “Through Your Eyes” emits a familiar and nostalgic feeling sonically, reminiscent of The Beatles, the heartwarming melodies will replay in your head all day long. This is probably one of her catchiest tunes from the album.
“Mastermind” is beautifully romantic. Slow, sensual and mellow, its sound certainly matches its narrative, delivering a poignant and thought-provoking message. This track questions the meaning of life and the universe’s plan. It emphasizes how life goes by in a flash and so we must cherish every moment and make them count for something.
“Lovegrass” takes a slightly different narrative route than the other singles. Rather than looking inwards, Wilman decided to search for another ‘Maria Wilman’. One in particular was an extraordinary woman who was a pioneer of her times. The songwriter took her time to look into who she was and the work she did only to uncover that she was a true inspiration. This uplifting and touching song emanates a warm glow through soulful vocals, twinkling strings and a sweet melody.
“Waterscreen” touches on the dark side of social media and how everything we are exposed to isn’t always as it seems. Whatever we do or say can end up online, and once it’s up there, it lasts forever. This track emphasizes how we should all be more mindful of what we are putting out to the world, as it can have detrimental effects. “Waterscreen” showcases the addition of synths, representing the consistent buzz of technology in the backgrounds of our everyday lives.
“Who Are You”
“Who Are You” demonstrates yet another side to this multifaceted artist. Dark and eerie, Wilman’s echoing vocals are accompanied by minimal instrumentation. Like much of Wilman’s music, she uses songwriting as a form of therapy and self-discovery. “Who Are You” specifically digs deep into her background and history as a way to have a better understanding of who she is today.
“The Order Of Things”
Entering with raw, organic guitar strums and soothing humming, this track gradually builds, bringing in orchestral arrangements. In this song we see the songwriter reflecting on society’s norms and patterns in life. She examines if the answer to moving forward is to break free from the constraints which have been conditioned within us and take it upon ourselves to search for the missing puzzle pieces. We all question if there is more to life, and Wilman confirms this, encouraging listeners to live out their own individual journeys, as they are the most important aspect of our human experience.
Title-track “Dark Horse” is almost self-explanatory. Hidden deep under layers inside ourselves, we all have an alter-ego brimming with potential, like a secret weapon we pull out at times when we need it most. Wilman has finally found hers and now she questions what it was that held it back for so many years. With dramatic piano melodies, “Dark Horse” packs a punch, showing an edge to the songwriter, as her vocal tone slightly shifts, reflecting her own inner dark horse.
“Everyman For Himself”
This relatable song is about constantly feeling like the world is against us. They say bad things come in threes and life has a cruel streak at hitting you when you’re already down. When those times come, the most important thing to remember is your own happiness, as Wilman reminds us to start putting ourselves first. “Everyman For Himself” brings the album to a close and is determined to leave you feeling totally complete. We’ve come on a journey with Wilman, through many ups and downs and we finally get to a place where we recognize a sense of self-awareness, having learnt a lot about who we are through the wise mind of Maria Wilman.
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© courtesy of the artist
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