Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No. 245: Bryter Later

Band: Nick Drake
Album: Bryter Later
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Nick Drake's second album is probably his clearest and most optimistic. Filled with jazz arrangements and easy rhytymns, the record is pretty and goes down easy. Largely an extension of Donovan's folk rock style, Drake's songs of sadness, failed romance and melancholy has gained a huge cult follwing since his death in 1974.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I've never been Drake's biggest fan, but as I'm warming to him lately, largely on my fandom of singers influenced by him (Iron & Wine and Elliott Smith, mostly).
Best song: "Northern Sky" is pretty great.
Worst song: "Fly," an instrumental, isn't terrible, but it's not great.
Is it awesome?: It's pretty good, but I prefer "Pink Moon."

While Drake is wildly known as a soft-spoken singer/songwriter, "Bryter Later" is more upbeat than the rest of his work. The feeling of optimism in the record is palpable and something exciting not we're used to seeing from a guy who died after an antidepressant overdose.

Specifically, "Hazey Jane II" is an instrumental that reflects Drake's ability to arrange for jazz-style records. "Sunday" has a little more of a boisterous feel to it. "At the Chime of a City Clock" is another jazzy record with melancholy lyrics about the city life Drake despised.

Again, I prefer "Pink Moon," but "Bryter Later" is Drake's most eclectic work and, likely, his most interesting.

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