Hand him a Flying V and Ash frontman Tim Wheeler has an uncanny ability to wring every last iota of emotion from any given situation. His dulcet County Down lilt and choirboy fragility can lacerate an emotional core at 50 paces, his way with a heart-swelling crescendo unsurpassed.
With this intuitive capacity for coaxing downy, back-of-the-neck-hairs aloft, Wheeler has produced a debut solo album that chronicles the dementia and death of his father, George, and the resultant record is so personal, so effecting (especially for those of us who’ve similarly lost a close family member to Alzheimer’s) that its soul-rending lyrical subject matter is only rendered endurable by the sheer beauty of its masterly musical realisation.
Exposed by stark naked piano one moment, embraced by soaring strings the next, Lost Domain will leave the listener raw. Yet Wheeler’s musical settings ultimately evoke optimism: despair may define the journey, but cathartic rebirth’s the destination. That said, the deluxe version includes a stripped-to-the-bone version of Ash’s Shining Light that, if you’re already teetering on the brink of breakdown, will most surely tip you over the edge./o:p