Nelson King continues to maintain his rather impressive recorded work rate, something in keeping with the bands from days gone by rather than the rather tardy recording schedule of most modern bands, and Shine is the latest collection of songs to see the light of day. Shine On gave us a taste of things to come in the form of a simple performance video and in many ways it was the perfect analogy for the album and indeed the man’s approach in general. No frills! And I mean that in the nicest sense, for whilst many bands polish up, over produce, over load and generally fill their music with tricks and gimmickry, Nelson King is a firm believer in the fundamentals. Get the song writing sorted from the start and the tunes will sell themselves. It’s what he has always done and it is what he does this time out too.
As Shine On hinted at, the album sees him in fairly retrained mood, we know he can rock out with the best of them but he also knows that he doesn’t always have to and by and large this latest collection takes a mellower tack. We Will Overcome has a buskers heart, simple lines and a poignant message and Shinning Hearts seems built from sounds, sentiments and sonic gems picked up at the end of Newport Folk Festival and moulded into a chilled and minimalist acoustic ballad.
Even when things are cranked up a bit it is done so in a deft way with This Song plugging in the electric but pushing the shimmering picked riffs to the back of the song driving rather on some wonderful string sweeps and emotive vocals and Another Day rocks out with some understated country grooves. The Brightest Light That Shines is a fascinating song, blending hazy psyched rock with martial beats and anthemic deliveries. That’s the perfect song to end a festival, and I can just imagine him rallying the crowd one last time as the sun sets behind the stage and the audience raises its collective voice and hands in a show of solidarity before drifting off smiling into the night.
Nelson King has really cornered the bluesy, acoustic rock and roll market by tipping his hat to some 70’s Stones grooves, late 80’s London sleaze scene moves and timeless folk rock blends, but as always his music is more than the sum of its parts. What is most impressive is that starting out from such a familiar and much visited place he still finds new corners to explore, new boundaries to push, new ways of mixing the sonic ingredients. There may be nothing new under the sun musically but that isn’t to say that there aren’t new ways of deconstructing the familiar and building it back up into something new and fresh. There’s a real art to that, one that Nelson King is the master of.