Friday, 13 April 2012

REVIEW: Nick Burbridge And Tim Cotterell - Gathered

Brighton-based singer songwriter Nick Burbridge is a prolific fellow. Following six albums with his band McDermott's 2 Hours (including collaborations with British folk legends The Levellers) Burbridge teams up with multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim Cotterell for this wonderfully organic and characteristically acoustic collection of contemporary folk songs. Beautiful opener 'Last Train Home' is a stunning acoustic waltz where the "believers clasp their hands and try to pray", "a poet crumpled in the corner says "you know, I've had this dream, then falls into a fit"" and "the rich kids snort a line", lyrical imagery bringing to life a varying cast of characters that somehow come together in the same place as each verse restates the song's brilliance. Here, and through the course of this lovely album Burbridge demonstrates his incredible lyrical abilities with ease, painting wonderfully scenic pictures with his inspired words. Tim Cotterell, producing the record's 12 tracks also provides musical backing on a range of instruments.

'The Monkey' is breezy but with underlying hints of black humour in the lyrics, while the solemn poetic lyric of 'The Years' is carried by a haunting and superbly crafted melody. 'After The Deluge' puts the story of survivors from a disaster-hit town to a contrasting jaunty musical setting before 'Song Of Sisyphus' tells a tale of two opposites with the help of a charming rural arrangement. The brooding defiance of 'Welfare' details the struggle and toil of the working man via a slow, sombre arrangement which is topped with a menacing fiddle hook, bubbling with indignation all the way through. 

Effortlessly balancing joy with sadness, 'Aren't You Going To Say Goodbye, John' could almost be a long lost Nick Drake track, while 'Sister Mercy' again matches another tragic tale with another sprightly jig. Springtime ambience blossoms through 'The Road Less Travelled' as Cotterell's subtle accompanyment provides a perfect  backdrop for Burbridge's voice. His rich, weathered and engaging tones are perfectly suited to the stormy folk of 'Felo De Se', a seething shanty that makes for another album highlight, and the bitter bruised simplicity of 'Snake In The Grass'. The closing 'Sorrow No More' is particularly moving, a funereal psalm which mourns the death of a close one with a minimal arrangement and another glorious vocal. 

Listeners who have time to hear this album in a peaceful setting will soon come to love this collection of understated and organic songs, and possibly lose themselves in the lyrical scenery. It's a humble, engaging record full of pastoral beauty and strong instinctive songwriting, each listen reveals more depth and more about Burbridge's poetic and musical intelligence. Also a good starting point if you haven't yet heard any of Burbridge's previous work yet. 8.3

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