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 Bryter Layter(1970)

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PostSubject: Bryter Layter(1970)   Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:31 am

Bryter Layter(1970)

Don’t get me wrong, this is a REALLY good album, the type of album that if released today would shoot to the top of thousands of critic’s top ten lists, but in a relative comparison to all of his albums, I find it to be his weakest. It contains the least amount of songs that really strike to the core of me, that give me that sort of revelation you get when you’re listening to a song of rare beauty, the type of song you hear and go “I will remember this a long time.” Nick Drake seems to have a lot of those songs for a relatively short career. But let me stress, LISTEN to this album, it is really good.

Introduction is a sad and beautiful instrumental to open up the album. Those two adjectives, ‘sad and beautiful’ are the two adjectives that would describe Nick’s whole career, so excuse my department of redundancy department use of adjectives.

Hazey Jane II is a confusing sort of title, since it is the first song with the title of ‘Hazy Jane’ to appear on the album. Before, when I reviewed the song ‘The Thoughts of Mary Jane’, I suspected it was not about what the title implied. This song is at least half-about what the title implies. The horns remind me of a Motown sort of love song, am I crazy in that assessment? Please someone back me up on that.

At the Chime of a City Clock is a song that touches on the subjects of alienation and loneliness. One feels that this song hints to Nick Drake’s past, maybe he was an awkward, skinny, outsider who liked weird things and was shunned:

One of These Things is one of the best songs on the album. The piano is absolutely beautiful. It’s a gem, a joy, a pleasure to hear, it emerges like an old friend in the guise of a stranger. Hazey Jane I is far superior to the first one(or is it the second one? MY HEAD HURTS). It feels much more authentic, the other one seemed almost forced. The drums are interesting, they remind me of ‘Heroin’ in their simplicity, yet their absolute importance to the overall scheme of the song.

Bryter Layter seems like a song that a hobbit from the shire would write if given 1970s musical instruments and recording technology, it has that feel of nature, capturing the pulsating heart of the woods, fields, babbling streams. It almost harkens back to a Great Britain of old, where machinery and metallic skylines didn’t dominate the land. It’s an instrumental, the flute is especially good.

Fly is the best song on the album and perhaps the best song Nick Drake’s written. The lyrics are absolutely haunting, and you can see Nick’s depression deepen as his career passes by. There is an all acoustic demo of this version for those interested: YouTube - Nick Drake fly acoustic . The lyrics are right here:

Poor Boy has a groovy sort of jazz feel, the guitar and the piano especially. It’s a pretty good song, but not one of my favorites. The backing choir is an interesting addition. I am going to correct what I said earlier, this song just has a bland sort of start, but it gets really good. The saxophone is interesting and really cool, it’s a soulful and jazz flavored song.
Northern Sky is another song in the classically beautiful style of Nick. It’s named about some part of nature, it starts with a tender and beautiful acoustic guitar, and hit has vague references of longing for ‘you’, with many references to nature.
Nick Drake has some of the best uses of flute I’ve heard in latter twentieth century songwriting, (and yes better than even a band whose vocalist is a flautist) and the song Sunday is a really pretty song, not quite rising up to the beautiful level, but it is a solid close to a great album.
Rating: 8.5/10

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