William Elvin – “The Tragedy of Gilbert” – an intimate journey of discovery

William Elvin has become a more polished musician over time, but he’s never lost his cerebral singer-songwriter vibe or his easy way with melody, and each of his records are full of well-crafted, witty and often poignant work. A short while releasing “Tram (Quarry Bay to North Point)” ft. Maita Ponce, the Hong Kong based Filipino musician is back with a brand new melody and story called “The Tragedy of Gilbert”. As always with William Elvin, the lyrics stand out, as much as the melody and music does. Here he once again shows us what an eloquent narrator he is, as he takes us through the disappointments, insecurities and unrealized dreams of the song’s protagonist.

“The Tragedy of Gilbert”, is really the story of most of our own lives. Many of us have incurred into the same situations, and experiences, as well as shared the same emotions Gilbert goes through in this song.  All of which will of course capture the empathy of the listener, who is able to easily relate to William Elvin’s words. There’s no sense of dread or doom to this music, but there is a weary cynicism to Elvin’s writing.

He explores the fragility of life, the inevitability of broken dreams, the perseverance of the human spirit, and the inexplicable wonders of the common working man. “The Tragedy of Gilbert” reminds us that William Elvin can draw poignancy and pathos from the simplest of sources.

Listeners are invited to step inside the songwriter’s head and meet with a dazzling kaleidoscope of vivid imagery. William Elvin assembles this song using a bouncy beat, and a colorful blend of sprightly guitars, stirring basslines, and thoughtful lyrics.

In trying to tie down a detailed narrative, “The Tragedy of Gilbert” ends up being remarkably focused; built upon scattered moments in Gilbert’s life that listeners can relate to. The song functions best as an intimate journey of discovery as Gilbert’s life unfolds in front of us.

The high points, which includes William Elvin’s mellifluous voice, wraps you in enough warmth to ensure a compelling listening experience. Its reflective quality means you get out of it what you put in, and one way or another, it takes a special kind of song to do that.

Taken at pure face value, you can just nod your head and hum along to the playful-like melody. Sink in a little deeper and all the anecdotes and events take on an afflictive aura. In fact, the very first thing that attracted me to “The Tragedy of Gilbert” was William Elvin’s astonishing ability to convey an extraordinarily vivid narration through snippets of information and simple, tuneful musical textures.

The song never tries to be complex, or present you with the full force of William Elvin’s sonic capabilities. Instead, it’s a great melodic tribute to nuanced songwriting. “The Tragedy of Gilbert” is the perfect embodiment of the insight that William Elvin infuses much of his music with and it’s a catchy way to draw his fans in. With a sing-along melody, the song stands with his best work and it’s a solid introduction to the artist.


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