Bootleg Magazine

Nigel Clothier
Book of Days


United Kingdom’s Nigel Clothier blends his across-the-pond sound with Americana, folk and even manages a little country twang on Book of Days. Lyrically, and vocally, he’s comparable to Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt - even Leonard Cohen. His crooning vocals, which sound like a folksier Morrisey, lend an honesty and fit in with the singer-songwriter ideal, “if you have something to say, you’d better be the one saying it.”

Though the vocals aren’t incredible, Clothier’s voice is smooth and in no way offensive to the ears. Following in folk tradition, lyrics combine poetics with common vernacular so they’re both elevated and relatable at once.

The album is packed with clever single lines that grab your attention even though the overall sound is very laid back and minimal.

The lyrics are strong but not particularly catchy, but the arrangements make up for this, particularly on songs like ‘Come North’ which opens with acoustic guitar grooving to an upbeat tambourine. The instrumentation is tight and there are few flourishes to distract from the lyrics.

There are a few surprises here, like honky-tonk meets twelve bar blues ‘Exceptin’ a Beach,’ which stands out among the more toned-down tracks. The song opens with a guitar shuffle, joined by rollicking piano and organ. ‘Whisper in the Mouth’ boasts weepy steel guitar and works like a country ballad from the 40’s.

‘Little English’ is the album’s most dynamic, a lone organ ballad alluding to ‘putting English’ on a cue ball, closes the album tightly and with strong imagery, Jackson Browne-like vocals and incredible backing harmonies.

‘It’s a Secret’ is a rich acoustic number and on opener ‘Here Tonight,’ Clothier sings one of his most clever and heartbreaking lines, “We watched the film in silence, twenty feet apart/surprised you didn’t hush me, you must have heard my heart.”

The songs are all well-arranged, and subtle nuances in the instrumentation augment Clothier’s profound lyrics and delicate delivery.

The album moves at a slow pace as most of the songs are fairly short, telling interesting and thoughtful stories. Book of Days not only requires undivided attention, but it also warrants it, and is worth giving multiple listens.

Greg Newman
Bootleg Magazine
Wilmington, NC, USA

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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