Master of the Game by Des Wade
(October 22, 2013)

Des Wade is an expatriate Irishman, living in Australia for 30 years of self-imposed exile – and still he writes music that retains the lyrical and melodic heritage of his birth. He muses about enduring Irish myth and legend, the history of hardship and injustice and incorporates Celtic spirit into much of his music. Now he’s created a follow up to his album the Book of My Days – it’s called Master of the Game.
The eponymous track Master of the Game opens with a reflective look at losing and winning and the final foolishness of envying the ‘other man’s grass’. Des lays a mournful, world-weary vocal over the tune adding to the message of the song. The sombre tone continues through Caravanserai – a complex tune that sprinkles its melody behind the lyrics, not instantly accessible, more mysteriously disarming.
The dark narrative truth of My Brother’s Shovel complete with its tale of betrayal and murder drives its message home without mercy – a song with a terrible warning and a dreadful sadness.
Somehow these songs are darker, more complex than before. The stories tell tell profound tales and spell out deep-seated sorrow. The evocative guitar on Sciatháin na nAingeal (Wings of Angels) is made all the more mysterious by use of the Irish-language lyrics and conjures a feeling of lingering sadness.
Des evokes the natural beauty of his adopted land with On Cradle Mountain – presumably about Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, Australia, before returning to his persistent theme of Irish heritage with Before the Hunger.
These are songs delivered with a raw edge, with meaning based on recollections real and imaginary, sometimes so personal the stories are hard to absorb, forged by heritage and experience … songs you’ll want to share.
Dan Holland

Des Wade "The Book of My Days"

The notes to this CD say that this Irish born, Australian resident uses dramatic sweeping orchestration in addition to simpler folk arrangements. But even though I know talented people can come up with amazing things by themselves to self release in these cyber times, I still was not ready for the truly dramatic sweeping orchestration that walloped me on the first couple of songs.

The first song covered the Irish story of the Children of Lir, which the band Loudest Whisper covered many years back in a rather strong arrangement of their own. Well this took all of that and combined it with something out of Dead Can Dance to let it soar. The notes say flight underscores the message. Underscore? I’m feeling that RCA ad with the wind tunnel blasting away at me through the speakers. The title cut is an absolute stunner as well. Thankfully, he does bring more folk into the album so I can catch my breath, but he combines both slightly psyche-folk like United Bible Studies with more traditional numbers.

There’s even some spacey slide moves sounding a bit in the Americana camp, although Australia has plenty of applicable outback, too. It ends up more of a folk album that the awesome beginning portends, but I am still not sure I have ever heard an album quite like this. As noted, I have heard all the elements and the really good news is that they all come together into a complete andcohesively enjoyable listening experience.

© David Hintz <>

Folkwords (UK) review
'The Book of My Days' by Des Wade - beautiful lyrics and enchanting melodies
There's always a faint edge of longing, coupled with an overriding sense of separation and optimism in music written by Irish exiles - even if they're a long-time émigré they retain that indefinable connection with their heritage. And the music from Des Wade is no exception. An Irishman by birth, Des has lived an expatriate life in Australia for over 30 years and he writes Celtic-edged music with the emphasis on beautiful lyrics and enchanting melodies.
With his album 'The Book of My Days' Des Wade remains true to the legacy of wonderful Irish story tellers. The album opens with 'Big Wing' which pulls you straight into the scope and reach of Des's finely orchestrated songs. The haunting vocals ride across the melody as the simplicity of a single whistle morphs into a full-blown blend of strings and percussion. There's a spacious, hymnal quality to the eponymous 'The Book of My Days' and a distinct feeling of 'stadium progressive folk' while 'Train of Dreams' co-written with Geoffrey Datson, proves equally powerful - and if you're not inspired by the haunting depth and breadth of this music you're not paying attention. The juxtaposition of soft vocals across powerful sweeping chords makes these songs continually alluring.
Des also writes songs in a simpler frame, the gentle peace of 'Wings of Angels' is a pure-as-crystal love song filled with hope and devotion - and his distinctive voice carries the lyrics so well. He doesn't forget the elemental mythic side of his birthright as he delivers the haunting 'O Ro Tir na nOg' and eternal hope of 'The Sign of The Claddagh'. The twelve tracks on 'The Book of My Days'follow an eclectic path wandering through dreamscapes and fantasies filled with recollections and experiences across compositions that move between expansive and narrow, simplicity and complex.
Is this folk music or the score to a film about life through one man's eyes? Listen and you'll find it fits both ... with 'The Book of My Days' Des Wade has created an album that will live in the memory for a long time.  Reviewer: Dan Holland