If there can be such a thing as an enfant terrible of the spoken word scene, then Ian Wills is certainly it. Having caused outrage in the 80s due to his escapades flogging the Spycatcher book outside Parliament, he has been described as “the Ian Dury of the 21st Century” by The Times Magazine and has created a niche for himself in the music industry which allows him to both weave his narrative magic and be both humorous and often incisive and poignant.
The latter is certainly the case here – having lived for some time but never being satisfied with the track Mercy’s Door, he has finally found the muse to bring it to life – none other than Celtic legend, Moya Brennan. Though her time since Clannad has seen her pivotal role as the queen of Irish music diminish not the slightest, she has been a little picky with the projects she chooses to work on. You can only imagine Ian’s luck when a complete punt into the unknown, inviting her to contribute on the track was welcomed with open arms. The result is a track, which although perfect for the Christmas market, with its message of hope in the midst of despair, it’s a song which feels like it could have existed forever.
Inspired by increasingly worrying world events and reflecting on his own young daughter’s life, Mercy’s Door tells a true-life story of redemptive light at the end of what often seems an endlessly dark tunnel. Ian’s confrontational and often stark use of language has elevated him to the position of one of Britain’s premiere spoken word artists. Transferring his skill with words to a musical canvas with his band Wills & The Willing reaped immediate praise from the likes of Janice Long at Radio 2 and even receiving praise for his lyrics from the legendary Les Paul. Their first album was declared “Pick of the Fringe” at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005, whilst its follow-up were supported by live appearances at venues as varied as The Royal Albert Hall and the Isle of Wight Festival. With his fourth album readied for release, Ian Wills continues to be one of the country’s most challenging and important artists.