Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nick Drake - Self Titled RSD Comp/Pink Moon (Island, Early 1970's-ish)


I've become somewhat obsessed with singer-songwriter Nick Drake lately, which I guess is a good barometer of where my head is at currently. Drake was a British singer-songwriter active in the late 1960's and early 1970's known for melancholy songs of delicate beauty. He was little known in his time, mental illness and a reluctance to perform live kept his audience rather small. After his death in 1974, he gradually built a cult following, blossoming full force in this decade with jazz tributes from Brad Mehldau and Jason Parker. It can be easy to miss the depth of Drake's work as I did on my first pass, hearing the delicate guitar (occasionally with strings or other accompaniment) and the wistful singing and dismiss it as something too genteel. Delving into Drake's lyrics provides another perspective and makes you realize how outstanding he really was. On headphones it sounds like Drake is speaking hidden truths to you alone, with tracks like the enigmatic "River Man" from Five Leaves Left along with the haunting "Time Has Told Me." The special album sold on Record Store Day was a compilation album from his first two LP's that  introduced a new audience to his music, particularly in the United States. As with most Record Store Day specials, it was a limited edition (and priced like it) with the record pressed on heavy vinyl and a poster and download code included. The album Pink Moon is considered by some to be his finest statement, is a haunting and confessional album with just guitar and vocals that reveals its secrets slowly, akin to Van Morrison's masterpiece Astral Weeks. Beguiling tracks like "Road" with the lyrics "You can take the road that takes you to the stars, and I will take the road that will see me through" are indicative of the hushed meditative nature of the music. It is because he refused to use any of the pop conventions of the day that his music has become timeless, adrift in space and time between sadness and grace, wonder and fear.

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