Richard Walters is 23 and he’s balding. He’s balding quite seriously. A worry for any self respecting creative. Healthy hair is a signifier for a fertile mind, tussling tresses an indicator of an artistic sensibility, so the cliché goes anyway.
All the greats who have crossed the threshold into old age have, by and large, maintained a healthy mane. Look at Bob Dylan, his nicotine stained locks still flow quite healthily as he approaches his 68th year, as do Paul McCartneys, even if he does require the odd dip into the Just For Men jet black from time to time. Current new folk favourites Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird have absolutely no trouble in that department. And just look at some of the musical world’s heroes who have aged and gone bald. Paul Simon. Van Morrison. Both haven’t sailed even close to a good album since their hair went south.
Richard’s hair has passed the stage were it can be creatively combed to cover up the unsettling truth, if his cranium were a season, it would be late Autumn, if the amount of hairs on his head signified his remaining time on earth, he would be wheezing.
Not to worry though, I suppose Bonnie Prince Billy is proof evident that male pattern baldness is not a barrier to musical success and Walter’s mutinying mop does not yet signal the draining away of his talent. The Weather Song, a single from his first album “Animal” is a quietly effective ballad, a whimsical, ode to the trouble that love can sometimes bring.
As with probably anyone who has tried to make a folk record since the 1960’s there are echoes of Nick Drake in the timid, whispered vocal twinned with some excellent acoustic guitar playing. The recording sets out with a home made feel, as if it was captured on an 8 track recorder in the back bedroom. In the final minute or so, it pans out and Richard is backed by a string section, it’s a nice touch and covers over the fact that the lyrics are not exactly thrilling.
It’s a pleasant song, not groundbreaking or particularly exciting but evidence enough that Walters’s harbours a talent that should be watched, proof, I suppose, that you shouldn’t judge a man by his hairline.