There was a point a few songs in to The Collection, possibly somewhere around Always You that I recognised the same battered style and ragged glory of one of my favourite musical cult heroes, Nikki Sudden. In my book, it doesn’t get better than that. The same loose and slightly louche approach, the same street gutter observations, the backstreet mythologies being woven, the broken guitar-slinging poet. And that is the thing I am finding that I love about Nelson King’s music, each song reminds me of fallen musical heroes or underrated and under the radar torch bearers. The key word here is remind, not replicate.
Yes, there is a lot in his sound which you can trace back to classic sounds of previous eras but those sounds are called classic for a reason and after all they do say that familiarity breeds content…or at least they should. But as I have pointed out before, it isn’t enough to unpick your favourite threads from the existing weave of musical history, it is all about the design you fashion them into next. The Collection seems to lean more into an acoustic driven place, electric guitars do little more than embellish the existing motifs or add interesting detail and the bass is happy to wander a root note route through the background. But as always the combination of old blues emotions, dark sleazy grooves, understated rock dynamics and country rock licks works to perfection but the new trick being pulled out of the bag here is space. Space that allows atmosphere to linger between the notes, anticipation to hang between the words.
It is this sort of rock music which is timeless, fashions come and go but this flavour of British heartland, small venue, underground, in the know rock seems ever present. It links the old folk heroes to the stolen blues scene of the 60’s to the sleazy and emotive outpourings of the likes of Messrs. Sudden and Kusworth. All of those have known that it isn’t about what you steal; it is what you then do with those references. Some miss the point, some wish to merely emulate, Nelson King uses it to write his own footnote in the underground musical history books.