You can say what you like about Mr King but you can’t deny that he has a pretty solid work rate. It seems that barely a season goes by without at least one album popping into the review pile. Whilst many of his albums have seen him head into that battered and brusied electric rock ’n’ roll territory that he seems to effortlessly ooze, this album returns him to the acoustic playground that he explored so wonderfully on The Collection. Acoustic does just what it says on the tin, for the most part, one voice, a couple of layered acoustic guitars, minimal beats and the odd foray into a slightly embellished sound.
But if that sounds a tad underwhelming or that you have heard enough of such deliveries to last a life time, you haven’t factored in the sheer ragged glory of Nelson King’s songs. This is no fey, gap-year, indie-folk singer in wide brimmed hat aiming for the artistry of Simon and Garfunkel and only reaching the gimmickry of Bon Ivor, this is a man who has paid his rock and roll dues so many times over, read, absorbed and even added a few footnotes to the rule book, that he doesn’t even have to plug in to make rootsy rock and roll statements, statements which feel like long lost classics from a golden age. This is rock and roll in the raw, stripped to its very soul, often vulnerable, always emotive.
If songs like You Blow Me Away and House on Fire are concessions to a fuller band sound, both of which could have easily graced a Stones set any time from the early seventies onwards, it is the lilting country-folk vibes of I’ll Fall For You and Face The Sun which are more representative of the overall feel of the album, the later in particular feeling like Keef and Ronnie jamming out in the dressing room in a cloud of nicotine and whiskey vapour.
It is always easy to see where Nelson King comes from, imagine a blusier Johnny Thunders growing up in England and learning to play by listening to Dylan and Neil Young, Creedence and The Band, but they are references worn openly and honestly and of course with music this fundamentally pure, unpretentious and invigorating what would be the point of trying to re-invent it. Better to just add more timeless gems to the canon and that is exactly what Nelson King has done here.
A preview from the next album Shine