“Hats off to the duo for bravely naming one of their most affecting ballads after a commuter town in Surrey…delivered with a conviction that’s hard to deny”: Wilson & Wakeman’s Can We Leave The Light On Longer?

Threshold and Ozzy Osbourne alumni deliver their third album of piano-led songs, exploring the nature of human connections

WIlson and Wakeman - Can We Leave The Light On Longer?
(Image: © Blacklake Records)

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Anyone without prior knowledge of former Threshold/current Arena singer Damian Wilson and his former Headspace colleague and prog man-about-town Adam Wakeman, when listening to Can We Leave The Light On Longer?, would be unlikely to detect any influence from beyond the mainstream singer-songwriter realm.

But as with most proggers, lofty concepts, long-form musical suites and juddery time signatures are far from the only strings to their bow. On this third album as a duo, Wilson and Wakeman offer 10 relatively simple, short piano-based compositions that are woven with a common thread of “how we are connected as human beings.”

The theme informs emotionally resonant, personal vignettes such as the organ-accompanied, lovelorn Let’s Talk and the slow-building pep talk of Turn Your Life Around, as well as November’s mournfully nostalgic meditation. And although The Man From The Island’s tell-don’t-show tribute could do with a touch more poetic flair, its string of memories are delivered with enough conviction to hit home.

A more ominous side to the central theme is explored on Artificial Interference, tackling a topic one feels will soon become as ubiquitous in prog as the perils of social media or visions of a dystopian future. But since Wilson and Wakeman are relatively early adopters, they still grab the attention with a tale where the titular technology ‘comes alive and no one sees the danger’ before they ask, ‘Are we blind?

It’s the songs led by Wilson’s soulful tenor that strike the most resounding chord, such as the album’s closing track. When American performers sing of locations in their home country, the places they mention invariably seem somehow imbued with romance, from San José to Memphis to Route 66. British lyricists have largely steered clear of namechecking, say, Portsmouth, King’s Lynn or Weston-super-Mare in song.

So hats off to the duo for bravely naming one of the most affecting ballads on this record after a leafy commuter town in Surrey. Addlestone succeeds in transcending any mundane associations, though, as Wilson evokes scenes of ‘Riding bareback in the evening sun/Through the meadows and the meads we’d run.’

Unashamedly sentimental stuff, of course – and thoughts of the nearby M25 might taint some listeners’ investment in it. But it’s delivered, like everything Wilson and Wakeman do, with a conviction that is hard to deny. Shine on, fellas.

Can We Leave The Light On Longer? is on sale now via Blacklake Records.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock