William DuVall isn’t just the geezer who had the unenviable task of taking over the mic once held by Layne Staley, but this Washington native is more. He’s been treading the musical boards for over thirty years performing with Atlanta hardcore band Neon Christ, rock/jazz crew No Walls. His wide range of incarnations from R’n’B, grunge, hardcore punk and to glam has made him one helluva musician in his music-making life.
A few years ago, I witnessed Alice In Chains at Alexandra Palace, London, that night proved to me DuVall isn’t a replacement but a rock star who makes moments for us. The Ally Pally gig is one of the best, also, Black Gives Way To Blue, in my opinion, is one of AIC finest.
Speaking of Albums, William DuVall has released his solo record, One Alone and I’m listening to it right now.
Opener “Til The Light Guides Me Home” has blown my mind with its tender, soulful and melancholic style, the gentle acoustic strumming, yet dark lyrics such as “I belong in this Hell I made my own” is a vibe and sound I wasn’t expecting.
Possibly my favourite on the record “Wishes” has an early 90s sound with an acoustic riff, I feel it’s a beautiful nod to Chris Cornell’s “Seasons”, and DuVall can touch the strings of the cardiac muscle with his words. The exceptional “White Hot” is just that, DuVall’s vocal range is making butterflies in my stomach move faster. He, with the acoustic guitar in hand, has created an arena sounding tune, it’s tingling….it’s rock music with a wasp’s kiss.
This stripped-back bare-bones music if played right can turn the sound into an event, like Nirvana’s Unplugged record. The Washington frontman gets emotion from those guitar strings. There are a few tracks that may fit in an Alice In Chains record, one is “Smoke and Mirrors” its angst low vocals and heavy slow playing is wonderfully welcomed and will suit the backdrop of an AIC melody.
We have a blues hint with “So Cruel” the strumming is softer compared to the other tracks but manages to sound big. The record is full with emotion and truth, as DuVall shows the extent of his singer-songwriting prowess as we hear in the haunting and raw “Chains Around My Heart” and the blues fuelled “Keep Driving Me Away”. One Alone comes to a close as we meet “No Need To Wonder” a tune suited for those lighter in the air moments, hitting high notes like a don.
One Alone is a compelling and engaging acoustic album. William DuVall is an interesting storyteller with a talent letting the listener lay back as the music flows over them like some form of reiki healing.
The album is out now and William DuVall goes on the roads of the UK and Ireland in 2020 starting in Dublin Whelands March 25th and ending in London April 1st at the 100 Club, with Glasgow King Tuts, Newcastle O2 Academy, Liverpool Arts Loft and Birmingham Academy 3 all in between.