Monday, 6 February 2012

Nick Drake - Pink Moon

You're asking yourself.. 'Why on earth is he reviewing Pink Moon?.. On a Sunday night'. I'm reviewing Pink Moon, because I want to. It was recorded in late 1971 and eventually released in early 1972 to a lack of support, royalties and appreciation. Pink Moon being Nick Drakes third album, he took his influences from his previous compact two albums and stripped everything down to it's core. Guitar and voice (with an additional piano on the title track). The talented and poetic are far more likely to become depressed as seen with some of our great poets written in the history books. Nick Drake took his life in the years following Pink Moons release in 1974. Plagued with depression and mental health problems, he overdosed shortly after his attempted fourth album. 

This album has an underlining beauty. From the glorious title track to the instrumental crossovers, the whole album is one amazing folk album. It has it's place among the best albums of the 1970's in my opinion and it's known as and well respected as his better album. The title track has a fantastic guitar riff which settles with Drakes brilliant quiet vocals. The withdrawn male makes an effort to express himself very slightly with this song. The piano which was overdubbed on top is just amazing. The energy and pureness this song posses is far beyond anything imaginable by Tom Dick or Harry buying a £70 acoustic guitar from Argos.

'Place To Be' starts off at the same speed as 'Pink Moon'. With it's raised guitar sections and delicate vocals, this song enters one ear and sticks in your brain before evaporating into thin air. His characteristics stand strong and his musical skill shines with the simplicity and compactness this track actually has. This is a very sparse album and Drake does his best to fill it accordingly with his deep vocal style and flowing guitar work. This is also seen on the third track 'Road', which has an astonishing arpeggio running through the middle of the track before Drake gives his fast paced vocal. 

One of my personal favourites and the more melodic song out of the bunch is 'Which Will'. This track again features some amazing arpeggios and stylistic vocals by Drake. He obviously can't hit the high notes, but he doesn't need to when he has a dark, deep and soulful voice which possesses his vocal expressions. Drake delivers two brilliant verses asking questions. The one which has always stuck in my mind is the final lyrics on both verses, "Which will you love the best". Then comes the instrumental which sounds magnificent in itself. The pure simplicity and winter imagery brightens this instrumental. The dark sounding middle section and bright opening play tricks in my mind as it slowly fades out, then into the following track 'Things Behind The Sun'. Faster guitar playing and an eager vocal feature in this song. At this point the listener becomes accustom to Drakes eerie vocals. I absolutely adore the little chorus this song has, it just sounds like perfection.

'Know' has a lovely instrumental backing. The blues-esque vocal plays it's part in Drakes vocal harmony and humming. Drake eventually sings above this little loop playing louder using his thumb to make a click sound on the guitar as the song abruptly ends. Again with 'Parasite', you can hear some brilliant arpeggios and desperate vocals. This album was recorded in two nights and you first begin to realise this was mostly first takes when you hear the rawness this song has. The sound of clicking and high notes being slightly imperfect add to the beauty. The arpeggios stand strong and give the song something more than basic guitar chords and a heartfelt vocal.

This album is under 30 minutes long. A length which is short and snappy, but that's the way folk is supposed to be. This is sparse and stripped back folk music, something which Drake didn't participate previously. 'Ride' also has that raw feel and has some bright vocals and continuous dinging by Drake which is unusual as his vocal style doesn't usually represent long lasting notes. The short 'Harvest Breed' passes over you like a Bugatti on acid. The short 90 second song has some amazing lyrics such as, "Falling fast and falling free you look to find a friend. Falling fast and falling free this could just be the end. Falling fast you stoop to touch and kiss the flowers that bend, and you're ready now. For the harvest breed". it's only one verse and the final line just shows his poetic side.

The closer is the beautiful 'From The Morning'. 27 minutes have passed and that acoustic sound strongly sticks in your mind like bluetac on a 30 year old wall. The mood is just astounding. Drake sings strong and the fast paced guitar work gives the album a nice little uplifting ending. It closes with Drakes strong musicianship playing tills his riff abruptly ends and the music stops. You're left with silence and 11 tracks which have just passed. it's something which I can continue to listen to over and over again and still not get bored. How is it that an album so sparse and delicate can stand the test of time. It's not just the guitar sound, it's Drakes experimental vocal delivery and the delicate piano overdub. Every tiny thing adds up to create this acoustic fantasy album. 


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