Nick wears his influences openly on his sleeve and even if you don’t connect the dots through the music itself, a quick blast of the wonderfully infectious “Never Been To Dublin” will reveal a handy list of that particular city’s influences. But though the spirit of The Waterboys, in particular, may loom large in places it is certainly that of the back room, bar band years rather than the intricacies of the Big Music. But there is much more going on here than a simple plundering of favourite records or a pastiche of early influences.
Although certainly sitting squarely in the folk genre there are two very important aspects that stand the album, the band and the man apart from many of the contemporaries. Firstly the outside influences from Americana twangs and fiddle breaks, its pop sensibilities, the more dream-like, sonorous qualities of songs such as Oceanographer (a duet with the wonderful Beth Rowley) and the sheer heart-aching beauty and Gilmour-esque guitar strands of “Come On! Jump Over Your Shadow.”
The other deal-clinching attribute is the, often self-deprecating, humour inherent in Nick’s song writing. “Terry and June’s” sweet message, writ large with TV and film references, the gradually revealing, ever darkening dialogue of “Could We At least Try?’ and the maybe not-so-tongue-in-cheek ode to the open mic. night of “Tom, Dick and Harry.”
It is an album of sharp observation; the ability to laugh both at and with the world and it is an album that celebrates the ups and downs of life and the joys of the journey both geographically and metaphysically. More than that it is an album of great songs and that after all is the bottom line.