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"Nobody cares how steep my stairs, and nobody smiles if I cross their stiles"

Class D

Main Category: Singer-Songwriters
Also applicable: Folk Rock, Lush Pop
Starting Period: The Artsy/Rootsy Years
Also active in: The Interim Years



Disclaimer: this page is not written by from the point of view of a Nick Drake fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Nick Drake fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

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Nick Drake is a legend and a demi-God - at least, according to his faithful devotees. Not too many people know that the guy ever existed, but those that do often fall under his spell just as others fall under the spell of Jim Morrison or Hendrix. He had a lot in common with them, of course. He was young and gifted. He was very unhappy, at least, unhappiness and inner strife fills his actual art. He was very introspective and personal, and disclosed a great part of the 'dark himself' in his music. And finally - maybe the most important thing of all - he died young, gifted, unhappy and intimate. As early as 1974, too, and from a classic reason: overdose of sleeping pills.

All of these things automatically make him a cult favourite; for many people, Nick's refined, relaxed, intelligent touch of melancholia is the meaning of life itself. This is not my case: Nick Drake will never be my personal hero, for reasons I'll be explaining a bit later. Yet it would be pretty foolish to deny the guy's songwriting talent, or his abilities to create a beautiful atmosphere, or, at least, his influence on subsequent generations of singer-songwriters and "wimpy" poppy romanticists. So the important thing to determine is: what, exactly, constitutes the bulk of Nick's merits and why is he worth anything at all?

First of all, Nick left behind a very small legacy - three albums in all, and his style and mentality were so perfectly formed from the very beginning that from 1969 to 1972 the mand displays no creative growth at all, unless the fact that the first two albums have orchestrated arrangements and Pink Moon is a bare acoustic record can be counted as creative growth. This is, of course, more evidence for the cult following: less diversity is bound to attract less people but it is also bound to ensure the absolute devotion of those who are attracted. This also means that when we're dealing with Drake, almost always we have to tread shaky subjective ground - Nick is all personality and mentality.

His actual musical merits? Well, he was a pretty solid folkish guitar player (best heard on Pink Moon), but whether he was really the 'best' of all of them is a serious problem for me - I don't really hear any spectacular tricks in his playing that would make me fall out of my chair. His singing is obviously very much Dylan-inspired, except that on the superficial level, his soft silken murmur is far more 'listenable' and lovable than Bob's rasp; but the very humbleness and quietness of his murmur makes it hard to determine if the voice is actually worth anything. Personally, I like that style, but others would probably find it boring. And finally, the actual songs are hit-and-miss: quite often, Nick is capable of delightful vocal hooks, but none of them are immediate, and they're so closely tied in with the atmospheric qualities of the songs that many people will be bound to miss 'em. I know I missed many of them for the longest time.

However, saying something like 'Drake is all style/atmosphere and no substance' would be missing the point entirely. Nick's atmosphere is his substance. The regular and, if I might say so, generic outlook on his work is that it is supposed to primarily be 'depressing'. That's a very approximate definition. Most of his songs sound 'sad' and 'melancholic' but 'depressing' is something else, an atmosphere of desperation and dark pessimism that hardly ever makes its presence even on Pink Moon, the record that's said to be Drake at his bleakest. If I might make an observation, the INNER Nick Drake is never like that; the sad and mournful lyrics can be complaining about the outer things in this world, but the impression is that it is always done from a position of inner peacefulness and calm. Supposedly it has a lot to do with Drake's voice being peaceful and calm - he never allows for even a tiny bit of overheated theatricality to mar his becalmed quasi-Taoist delivery. One could say this is actually a tradition of folk music as such, but Drake's voice is not what you would imagine a typical folk singer's voice to be, and the resulting atmosphere is definitely different. Nick is always relaxed; his obscure, complex and convoluted lyrics are being sung with such elegant nonchalantness that you're not even really tempted to follow them with a lyrics sheet - he gives this impression of simplicity, unpretentiousness and even lightweightness that the most twisted imagery doesn't really bother you in the least.

So what's the overall message of Nick's work? Isolation. If you look carefully, more than half of his songs lyrically (and in a certain sense, musically) deal with the 'I'm not like everybody else' syndrome. Whether he's singing about himself, or about his imaginary heroes like 'Hazey Jane', they're always stuck in an independent, self-sufficient (occasionally, self-insufficient, that's when the problems begin) world of romance and poetry, and they're shunned by the routine, mundane elements, shunned constantly and in a pretty severe way. 'I was born to love no one, no one to love me' - that line summarizes Drake's message very well, as well as the 'Poor Boy' quotation at the top of the page. Drake is the "suffering intellectual", the lonely reject of society, a subject that had up till then almost never really been tackled by rock music. Then again, Drake is not exactly "rock music", is he? The themes of loneliness and isolation had been very well explored in folk and blues categories before, yet it took Nick Drake, I guess, to give them an actually valid poetic facet. And thus, while technically speaking, Nick is no great innovator, the fact that he crossed the well-known musical vehicle with a well-known way of poetic expression in a new way, further romanticizing and "classicizing" the values of folk music, has to be accounted for. And it will be accounted for.

Below I have reviewed all the three albums released by Nick in his lifetime, plus a posthumous collection of outtakes that's also well worth getting to know; my deepest thanks go to Jamie Anthony who actually took the pain to provide me with all of these albums. It'll probably take some time before Nick Drake gets issued here in Russia, although you might never know for sure.



Year Of Release: 1969

Record rating = 10
Overall rating = 12

Autumnal? You dang sure it's autumnal! It's a bit confusing about this stuff just being one long brooding tune, though...

Best song: HA. HA. Well it's that one long brooding tune, you know...

Track listing: 1) Time Has Told Me; 2) River Man; 3) Three Hours; 4) Way To Blue; 5) Day Is Done; 6) Cello Song; 7) The Thoughts Of Mary Jane; 8) Man In A Shed; 9) Fruit Tree; 10) Saturday Sun.

I guess I went through the usual initiation ceremony most Nick Drake addicts go through - the first listen to the man's debut didn't make a single impression. Maybe occasional interesting tidbits, moments and smidgeons. The guy's humility and lack of a pretentious "I'm wiser than the world, see me prove that" atmosphere was nice, but I kinda failed to see what good qualities Nick had to counteract that perspective. His guitar picking is nice and professional, but it's obvious he's not about the guitar; if you wanna hear some really weird quasi-folk acoustic picking, check out Tyrannosaurus Rex instead. His dim, inobtrusive baritone leaves you with a friendly feeling but equally fails to impress on his own. The melodies are dang near non-existent as far as instrumental work goes and are very hard to spot as far as vocals go, besides, several songs actually share more or less the same vocal melody. And the lyrics, solid and thoughtful as they are, just can't compensate for everything else. Besides, the man hasn't got even a tiny streak of humour.

That's the first Nick Drake listen for you. The only good thing about that initial experience is that deep down inside you are left with the urge to listen to this for the second time, because somehow you feel that you don't like the album because you don't get it, not because you already got it. And then it starts growing. And in the end the record comes out as the minor folksy masterpiece it is. Too bad I can't remember a single song of it even if I'm way through my eighth or ninth listen. But enough ME. It's a Nick Drake record. It's almost purely acoustic, although occasionally Nick is backed by Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention playing modest electric licks in the background. Danny Thompson contributes bass, Paul Harris joins in on occasional piano, and Robert Kirby arranges all the strings on the album, which also form an essential part of the experience (of course, there will always be dorks saying that the strings actually spoil the experience, but it's not my fault if somebody's been fed up with Fifties' Hollywood movies, nor is it Robert Kirby's who actually arranges everything in good taste).

And it's a 'mood piece', of course. So much a mood piece that sometimes I fail to notice the pause between tracks; only a slight shift in Nick's intonation, a different hook or a different twitch in arrangement indicates that we're on to the next part. As a 'mood piece', it, of course, shows Drake's stylistic limitations - the man obviously doesn't want and probably can't shift to anything different - but since the songs themselves are pretty short, it's no big problem. What is the mood, then, actually? Some call it depressing and bleak; I prefer to simply call it BLUE. Or GRAY, if you wish. Autumnal, as many have said. These songs are mostly minor in their essence, but it isn't as if they're written from the point of view of a bitter, thoroughly depressed person. It's more like a position of a sceptical philosopher, contemplating his own and everybody else's frailty and weakness in this mysterious and dangerous world. In other words, it's a THINKING man's album rather than a simply FEELING man's album - not that there's anything wrong with either.

It would be pretty hard to pick out highlights on the album; the only song that doesn't do anything for me is the rather pointless 'Cello Song' which has no special hook as far as I'm concerned. The other nine all have something. 'Time Has Told Me' is a love song without any apparent 'hidden message', but there does seem to be some kind of concealed 'menace' in the 'leave the ways that are making you be what you really don't want to be' chorus, the kind of strange attention-drawing trick that transforms a basic love ballad into an enigma. 'River Man', in stark contrast to its rather 'upbeat' predecessor, is somewhat creepy with its mystical allusions... somebody just shoot the dork who complained about the orchestration on, it's the friggin' best part of the song, with the gloomy cellos and the shimmering violins perfectly playing off each other to illustrate the 'dark' and the 'bright' of the song. 'Three Hours' gets us back to stark folkish territory with medieval overtones and even stranger poetic allusions - the 'in search of a master, in search of a slave' bit looks almost like something taken off a Leonard Cohen album. (Which actually reminds me that it would be quite an interesting matter to draw a more detailed comparison between the two. Anybody looking for a fresh topic on a music-related essay? Fresh topics for a penny!).

Anyway, it's useless to go through all the other songs in a row, so let me just concentrate on the two last ones - 'Fruit Tree' is quite glorious, and wasn't it written as a prediction? I mean, Nick Drake is obviously recognized better today than he was during his lifetime. Or will be recognized (or should be recognized), anyway. Fabulous oboe part, too. And I'm also quite partial as to what concerns the closing number, the jazzy piano-based 'Saturday Sun', which has - can you imagine? - a bit of a McCartneyesque feel to it, I guess. But maybe not. The vibraphone part is celestial.

Obviously, the most seductive thing about this all is how dang IN-OB-TRUSIVE it is. No loudness, no abrasiveness, and no rhythmic catchiness either. And Nick sings it all like he's just standing out there at the window, like on the front cover, nonchalantly whistling away his little observations to no-one in particular. Married with his talent, this makes up for an album that's so drastically subtle it's in danger of being unnoticed.... which, come to think of it, it was. Maybe Nick Drake should have hired Mike Bloomfield or the Band to ensure his popularity. Then again, maybe he shouldn't. What works well for ones works shittily for others.



Year Of Release: 1970

Record rating = 9
Overall rating = 11

The edges smoothed out with extra mellowness, but otherwise, no real changes.

Best song: POOR BOY

Track listing: 1) Introduction; 2) Hazey Jane 2; 3) At The Chime Of A City Clock; 4) One Of These Things; 5) Hazey Jane 1; 6) Bryter Layter; 7) Fly; 8) Poor Boy; 9) Northern Sky; 10) Sunday.

Drake's "OVERPRODUCED" album. Strings, horns, flutes, occasionally even DRUMS for God's sake. Good thing the 'excessive' orvhestration actually adds to the songs' melodies, and in some cases, actually carries them forward, rather than just adding saccharine Hollywood touches to the proceedings, or else all of the reproaches towards Mr Kirby would have been completely justified. Still, the album took an even longer time for me to digest than its predecessor, and even now when all but two or three songs have finally stated their point clearly and brightly, I can't really get rid of a naggin' feeling that some of the sharp edge of 5 Leaves has been washed smooth by the arrangements.

However, I wouldn't really want to pile all the blame on Kirby or the session players. Essentially, the main problem is just that there's even less depression or black melancholy than before, and who really needs a Nick Drake without black melancholy? Heh heh, just kidding. One might, in fact, argue that since the emotional impact on one's organism is not as immediate and not as obvious as before, it should be acknowledged as a SUBTLER impact, and subtlety should be given props. That argument I will not question. Nick's subtlety is not really my kind of subtlety, so if yours is a kindred spirit, feel free to swap the ratings of the two albums or whatever. One thing I can say for sure - Bryter Layter is well worth hearing.

It has about the only upbeat song Drake has ever recorded (released?), the quirky wonderful 'Hazey Jane 2', a song that also betrays Nick's snobby intellectualism because for some reason it's the second song on the album where 'Hazey Jane 1' is the fifth. Huh. Anyway, it's a pretty fast country-rockingish shuffle with none other than Richard Thompson himself adding cute little lead guitar lines and a moody brass background, while Nick mumbles mysterious metaphoric lyrics that supposedly have to deal with self-isolation, but don't quote me on that - finishing it all with the witty hypothesis that 'If songs were lines/In a conversation/The situation would be fine'. 'Hazey Jane 1', for that matter, is entirely different: a more traditional orchestrated ballad with a very tiny, but very important, hook in the chorus (the wonderful 'slow, slow, Jane', line, with an oddly caressing, almost paternalizing intonation, as if Nick were the caring Daddy and 'Hazey Jane' the rambunctious daughter, so quick and rash on the move).

A couple of times Nick actually makes some attempts to slightly shift the songs' stylistic nature, for instance, with my favourite tune on here, 'Poor Boy', which is very jazzy in its essence and even features female backup vocals. It is, however, far more reliant on Chris McGregor's wonderful blue note piano feels and the fact that there are at least two small hooks within each verse. Nick's 'I'm a poor boy, and I'm a rover' confession manages to cut my heart pretty deeply, especially considering the almost totally 'nonchalant' atmosphere in which it is sung, and the 'nobody knows how cold it grows...' chorus is arguably the darkest moment on the record, and I don't even mean its obviously springing connections with Nick's death; it must have produced a pretty creepy effect on the minds of Drake legionaries even at the time of its original release.

Other vocal highlights, in my opinion, can be found in 'At The Chime Of A City Clock' and the record's one moment of relative lightweightness, 'One Of These Things First'. The former is probably the most 'pretentious' song on the album, with lyrics that are very hard to comprehend - obviously, they're very much Dylan inspired in this particular case, yet unlike so many of Dylan's lyrics, they are also very obviously inviting you to actually interpret them instead of just revelling in their sonic effect. I'll leave the actual interpretation to somebody else, though, and just note that the acoustic guitar on the song is the very definition of 'ominous': you'd swear that if only the prophets of the Bible needed an accompaniment to their speeches, they'd definitely hire Nick to stand behind them with his six-string. In radical contrast, 'One Of These Things First' is nowhere near as menacing - instead, the piano plays something pretty cheerful and almost life-asserting, you could say, and the funny loverboy lyrics have been said to hold references to the Temptations' 'The Way You Do The Things You Do'. A real tension-reliever.

Finally, the two instrumentals that open and close Side 2 are pretty nifty, showing us that Nick could write gorgeous instrumental melodies when he really wanted to, as the flute/orchestra theme of the title track and the melancholy flute theme of 'Sunday' are perfectly memorable and emotionally just as resonant as any given vocal tune by the man. Plus, they're also fairly opposed to each other - 'Bryter Layter' is very summerish, with none of the despair and gloominess we'd expect, while 'Sunday' ends the album on a note that's anything BUT life-happy.

There's also 'Fly' and 'Northern Sky', songs that don't really thrill me that much, but it's not as if they're bad or anything. It's just that next to the VERY successful 'experimental deviation' of 'Poor Boy', they maybe seem what, routine? I dunno. They're nicely composed love ballads that could be a perfect choice for singing to your beloved if you're in serenade mood (both of you, that is - if your beloved is not in a serenade mood, she might take the 'come ride in my street-car by the bay' line all too seriously).

Anyway, for what it's worth, there's no progression in this album at all, but it's not like Drake fans will really mind this; the style was so perfect in the beginning that I guess Nick could just keep on baking similar albums twice a year and they would all be gobbled down hungrily. Wise man as he was, he stopped - and Bryter Layter was his second and last record in the same vein. And the third album was pretty odd.



Year Of Release: 1972

Record rating = 8
Overall rating = 10

The "truly tough gem" of the Drake catalog - for the devoted listener indeed.

Best song: PINK MOON

Track listing: 1) Pink Moon; 2) Place To Be; 3) Road; 4) Which Will; 5) Horn; 6) Things Behind The Sun; 7) Know; 8) Parasite; 9) Ride; 10) Harvest Breed; 11) From The Morning.

Lord knows I've tried but I just can't get into this album. Maybe I miss the rhythm of 'Hazey Jane 2', or the swooping strings of 'Fruit Tree' and the like, or some other thing, but fact is, where many people take delight in Nick going so sparse (and scarce) with this pure acoustic set, only occasionally accompanied by piano, I feel boredom. Not always, but often. At the time of its release, Nick was proudly saying that the album was so short because he didn't have anything else to offer; with the release of Time Of No Reply more than a decade later, this was proven wrong, but still, this move has to be counted as a brave anti-commercial step, and also - maybe - as a tiny step to break away from the locked formula of the previous two albums, so Nick should be given props for that.

Pink Moon is often called Nick's "depressing masterpiece", but I can't really see what makes it so much more gloomy than the preceding two albums. I'm guessing this has something to do with the lack of orchestration: as expert as Kirby's arrangements had been, in many people's minds they could have been associated with Hollywoodery anyway. On the other hand, the picture of Nick alone with his acoustic, sitting in the dark studio somewhere in a corner recording this stuff, is so enthralling and captivating that it's fairly simple to onfound the stylistically neutral "intimate" with the stylistically marked "depressing". If I understand depression right, there are simply no depressing songs at all on Pink Moon - just introspective ones.

And not too good ones. This is really a test for how much you can associate with Nick: if this happens to be your favourite Drake album, you'll probably be cleaning his shoes in Paradise when your time comes. Me, I was far more impressed with the combination of guitar/voice/lyrics/orchestration on the previous albums, and now that one of the important elements is gone and the sound is so bare, it's just a bit too hard to take. Not to mention that Nick himself makes matters a bit worse by incorporating stuff like the entirely pointless 'instrumental' called 'Horn', which I'd call "acoustic ambient music" - a couple notes picked over and over again for a minute and a half. What's that supposed to mean?

Songs like 'Things Behind The Sun' and the title track are the highlights on here, but even so, I can't help but think about how far more powerful they'd have been when graced with Kirby's arrangements; actually, 'Things Behind The Sun' was originally deemed for inclusion onto Bryter Layter, but dropped at the last minute. Too bad. It's a golden oldie, a song that once again deals with isolation and loneliness in Nick's convoluted way and just begs for some moody strings in the background. As for the title track, it's pretty lightweight and almost funny, and thank God it's at least relieved by a pretty sparkling piano line overdubbed over the basic acoustic rhythm.

One thing that Pink Moon maybe does better than its predecessors is showcase Nick's talents as a guitarist - now and then, you'll hear him pick a particularly mean chord sequence, and the unnerving steadiness with which he plays the repetitive riff to 'Know' (later used in a Nike commercial of all things!!!) is definitely amazing. But that's small consolation anyway; the melodies are nowhere near challenging, and no amount of classy folksy playing really redeems them. The only other two tracks that managed to stick in my mind after more than a dozen careful listens are 'Parasite' and 'Ride'. The former's melody is pretty formulaic anyway, the main hookline is rooted in the chorus - 'take a look, you may see me on the ground, 'cause I'm the parasite of this town' - there's something so vaguely self-pitying and at the same time so deep in these lines that you can't really bypass them. As for 'Ride', it's by far the only truly "upbeat" song on the album, and it's pretty interesting to see the "moody blue" verses of the song contrast with the totally unexpected cheerful resolution of the chorus - 'but hear me calling, won't you give me a free ride'. Pretty amazing, the contrast; I was almost tempted to call this the best song on the album, but I figured I would get away better with something not as blatantly obvious. And 'Horn' was out of the question, of course, so I selected the title track which was also cool. That's the way my brain works.

I'll not be discussing the other songs anyway. I don't like any of them, or, to be more exact, I don't remember any of them. The lyrics, when you consider them separately, are as strong as ever - 'Place To Be', about growing old and weak, is nice, for instance. Other songs, like 'Road' and 'Which Will', betray a sudden favour for the "listing" trick (constant repetitions of the predicate), which could be deemed as a sign of uninventiveness if the songs weren't supposedly meant to sound as "short ragged snippets" anyway. In fact, this is a major problem of Pink Moon - too many of the songs are so short and underdeveloped they almost sound like raw demo versions, and I'm not just talking 'Horn' here. Only about four or five tracks give the impression of solid finished numbers. It is no wonder, then, that the last Drake album reviewed on this page - an album of real demo versions and alternate takes - sounds much, much more like a finished and totally self-sufficient record than Drake's actual last recorded product.



Year Of Release: 1987

Record rating = 9
Overall rating = 11

Outtakes? More like "The Great Lost Album"?


Track listing: 1) Time Of No Reply; 2) I Was Made To Love Magic; 3) Joey; 4) Clothes Of Sand; 5) Man In A Shed; 6) Mayfair; 7) Fly; 8) The Thoughts Of Mary Jane; 9) Been Smoking Too Long; 10) Strange Meeting II; 11) Rider On The Wheel; 12) Black Eyed Dog; 13) Hanging On A Star; 14) Voice From The Mountain.

Oh, I do like this one. Outtakes from sessions for all the three albums, plus a few alternate takes... mmm, yummy. Amazingly, they really sound way more polished and completed than much of the Pink Moon stuff, real songs that have been rejected for reasons only Nick would be able to clarify had he lived. Predictably, this is also the most 'diverse' of his albums, although granted, that's not saying much. There's even a blues cover on here for Jesus' sake, and it rules! Robin Frederick's 'Been Smoking Too Long' is taken in the exact same muddy production style you'd hear on an early John Lee Hooker or even Robert Johnson record, with low-treble guitar and vocals that seem to be coming from the underground... what a MAH-vel. Of course, Nick couldn't be mistaken for an old bluesman a thousand leagues away, but that doesn't really matter as he manages to get the soul of the blues perfectly.

And on the other hand, you get some really strange stuff like 'I Was Born To Love Magic' that starts almost as a complaintive medieval ode and then suddenly changes into near-Hollywood glee midway through and then even incorporates a certain Easternish feel; definitely one of Nick's best, and maybe the only song in his catalog to betray him as a child of the psychedelic era. (The word 'magic', anyone? Lovin' Spoonful?). And, of course, the powerful title track, which may or may not be the best one on here, but it sure as hell can count as one of Nick's most convincing anthems ever. Where for Mr Dylan the times they were a-changin', for Mr Drake time had no reply, as he just stands there with his completely isolated and misunderstood self and nobody in the world gives a damn. No wonder Drake never had any commercial success - a commercially successful priest of self-isolationism would be a mockery, much more so than a public-happy guitar-waving Bruce Springsteen. Beautiful song.

Another total marvel is 'Clothes Of Sand', another in a line of Drake's chill-sending mystical tales with no clear interpretation. One of those neat vocal hooks when he goes 'clothes of sand have covered your face, given you meaning but taken my place'... it's hard to tell exactly what kind of emotional impact this line gives one, but one thing is obvious, the protagonist of the song is not at all similar to Drake's ideal of 'hazey Jane', and the very idea of sporting 'clothes of sand' doesn't seem like a particularly attractive one - so the song should be taken as a mighty condemnation epic, I guess.

And then you fall upon something timid, lightweight and innocent like the pretty jazzy 'Mayfair', just a little slushy romantic waltzing that can charm you into total oblivion for a couple minutes. And this interspersed with a home demo of 'Strange Meeting II', another lost love song with mystical overtones that's totally involving yet I guess was left off the actual albums because Nick thought it too immature. True enough, as good as the song is, in this case the lyrics are WAY too clear and metaphor-free to qualify along with Nick's best, but any songwriter of lesser stature would sure kill for these lines.

And then there are all the outtakes of already known tunes - there's 'Fly', which actually sounds cleaner and clearer than on Bryter Layter, and a slightly electrified version of 'The Thoughts Of Mary Jane' with Richard Thompson adding sharp but economic licks, and 'Man In A Shed', one of the best songs on Five Leaves Left. And none of the weaker songs off that album.

And finally, the record closes with four tracks recorded by Nick in February 1974, just before his untimely death, which don't show any progression - stylistically, there's not much departure from Pink Moon - but which are nevertheless interesting. Particularly the scary 'Black-Eyed Dog', with its haunting refrain ('a black eyed dog he called at my door, a black eyed dog he called for more'), which certainly can seem creepy in the light of Nick's unexpected death. One of those minimalistic, yet sharp-hittin' folk tunes that really make you appreciate the genre. A bit unusual approach for Nick, too, what with the changed vocal intonations (impersonating an old beggar here, I guess?), and with some marvelous acoustic guitarwork.

Must say, though, that the other three songs fail to impress me all that much - in fact, I think they represent the weakest material on the record, kinda like the weak hookless material on Pink Moon. Which begs for a terrifying question, of course: maybe by 1974 Nick Drake was just totally drained artistically? Having said everything he really wanted to say on his first two albums and just a couple more things on the third one? Which would, of course, logically lead to the assumption that his death was suicide over frustration. Whatever. Nobody knows, and nobody will ever know. In the meantime, just remember that this album is a worthy, if not actually equal, companion, to the regular studio albums, and I'd violently recommend it over Pink Moon, even. It rounds out Nick's output almost perfectly, and actually, remember that songs that the artist did not want to have released during his lifetime often say just as much about the artist's personality as those he wanted to have released.


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