It takes a brave man to record a whole album in one, six-hour recording session, an approach that is anathema to the modern music world’s love of glacial, piece meal recording and often excessive desire to enhance, polish and over-produce. Thankfully Nick is just such a man and in place of the fakery and falsehoods that might mark many of his peers work, here there is honesty and heartfelt passion, a directness of communication and a clean-limbed narrative.
But if the system of delivery might seem simple, the music is anything but as a wonderful deftness and intricacy drives the acoustic guitar and the versatility and resonance of Nick’s voice is hypnotic in it’s own right. And these qualities are made even more prominent by the blankness of the musical canvas that they’re painted on to. Instead of banks of extraneous sounds and unnecessary embellishments you can feel the atmospheres and weight of history hanging in the room he recorded in, St. Georges Hall Crown Court Room, in Liverpool and it often feels as if he is merely bringing alive all the emotions, woes, worries, relief, loves and loss which have collected in the corners of that historic place.
References from John Martyn to Townes Van Zandt, from beat writers to social commentators of film and TV abound but more than anything this is an exercise in musical nakedness, of stripping your songs down to the bare essentials, of just telling the tales unadorned; music warts and all. And it is not only all the better for such an approach, it is nothing short of a triumph. Any songwriter entering the studio for the first time to put their creations down for all posterity should be made to listen to this album as a point of reference to show that tension, emotion, drama and the stuff of life itself need to be inherent in the very bones of the song not created by a paid engineer. Get that right and you can’t lose.