These early mornings of late winter seem to be getting to all of us, the constant grey, dull mornings make us cry out for the start of spring, I yearn for an early blue sky and the promise of a warm day, but the grey mornings do give me a chance to listen to some music while I convince myself to get to work. This is where I find myself listening to Nels Andrews, he’s a singer guitarist that does something that is very rare, he’s an American that sounds British. His music sounds like it’s straight out of the UK’s folk songbook and will immediately feel at home in folk fans record collection, his songs are expressive, his lyrics wordy and descriptive and it rarely sounds as if he is being specific with geography. Add to that his choice of having Irish flautist Nuala Kennedy steering the production (and appearing on the record) you’ve got something that sounds like it comes from the cold waters of the UK rather than the warm streams of Santa Cruz.
The mood of the album is sombre, perfect for these grey mornings when it’s calm and thoughtful rather than sunshine and buttercups and there is a feeling that each song could effortlessly roll into the next. From ‘Scrimshaw’ to – track four – ‘Holy Water’ the mood is similar, the key is similar and Andrews vocal is emotive and acts as a narrative rather than flying through a chorus or catchy hook, it’s not until ‘Eastern Poison Oak’ and ‘South of San Gregorio’ does the album peek into different waters and mood.
These two songs give the album a much-needed lift, there is a feeling of Paul Simon about them and, although it’s not quite as fun as being by the school yard with Julio, they come as a welcomed change.
Overall, for me, it’s a little too sombre, but bear in mind that I’m not a fully payed-up member of the folk music appreciation club, so like all things this comes down to personal taste, so if you’re a fan of folk and you want something that has intelligent lyrics and is perhaps a little outside of being strictly folk, this might be perfect for a late winters morning to listen to while the tea is brewing or the toast is browning in the toaster.
As always, there is only one way to find out, hunt it down and have a listen.