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thewaterboys allsoulshill
Artist: The Waterboys
Title: All Souls Hill
Genre: Folk-Rock
Release Date: 6th May 2022
Label: Cooking Vinyl / The Orchard / Indigo

Album Review

We’re into album number 15 now for the prolific Mike Scott, and even this album - which sees a number of collaborations - isn’t the album he was intending to release. I mean, who else has a spare album just kicking about?

And the ease with which the title track clatters and scuttles about the place illustrates clearly the wily old songsmith’s lust for a tune, a hook, and a barbed lyric has diminished not one bit. ‘The Liar’ wastes no time either, huge percussion framing a commanding vocal, and it’s clear which insane and insanely coiffured recent world leader this injection of bile is squarely aimed at. There’s a similar short, sharp focus on the bluesy skip of ‘Blackberry Girl’, and a leisurely lollop on ‘Hollywood Blues’, that drifts so far into MOR it’s like kicking-out time in a bar that time forgot.

There’s certainly variety aplenty on ‘All Souls Hill’, although it does feel somewhat cobbled together, a sweep up of fragments from past and present, which prevents any feeling of stagnation, but frustrates with the choppy inconsistency of the whole. Spoken word ‘In My Dreams’ for example, pretends to be a cooler-than-thou stream of consciousness, but actually feels like filler, and pretentious at that. ‘Once Were Brothers’ - a cover of the ROBBIE ROBERTSON song with additional lyrics and arrangements - has all the mystical wide-eyed wonder that Scott can pull out of the magic bag when he needs to, and a further cover of “post-war, country-folk standard” ‘Passing through’ has also had a rewrite, with additional verses chucked in to pad it out. And it does feel padded out, at over nine minutes.

If you like post-war, country-folk standards, then this kind of endless slow-swagger through the dust-bowl is probably your bread and butter. To the rest of us, it’s probably about nine minutes too long. “Passing through, passing through” sings Scott, joined by a chorus of people who presumably also go wild for a bit of post-war country-folk standarding, but oh dear god, it drags and drags and slouches and drags, and you just want to shout Alleluia when it finally finishes.

Presumably anyone out there still expecting ‘Whole Of The Moon’ or ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ has long since given up - and rightly so. Why should a performer try to rewrite and recreate the past? But Mike Scott seems to be such a flappy flag, it’s hard to pin him down in such capricious and fanciful breezes. He certainly does his own thing. But often, that seems to be at the expense of any quality control or focus, a sort of meandering wanders up the hippy trail, occasionally being clear headed enough to remember he probably does still have an audience out there.


01. All Souls Hill
02. The Liar
03. The Southern Moon
04. Blackberry Girl
05. Hollywood Blues
06. In My Dreams
07. Once Were Brothers
08. Here We Go Again
09. Passing Through


Mike Scott

Website /

Cover Picture

thewaterboys allsoulshill


Music: 6
Sound: 6
Total: 6 / 10


Written by Stephen Kennedy

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