Tuesday, 16 April 2013

NICK GLADDISH - ALBUM REVIEW


Nick Gladdish - Seconds Treasured Memories Measured 
Nick Gladdish - Seconds Treasured Memories Measured

Acoustic singer-songwriters really need to do something to stand out these days whether that be having a wild onstage persona, a gimmick, a new way to play their instrument or an unrelenting gig schedule. Sadly, what a lot of solo musicians don't always concentrate on is the craft of songwriting which is a shame because that just leaves us with a glut of singers with nothing on the other side of the hyphen. In Nick Gladdish, however, we have a genuinely talented musician, a singer with an identifiable voice and, crucially, an ability to create a song that holds your attention throughout. Now don't get me wrong, not every tune on this album is a nailed on chart topper (let's face it, when was the last album that you could say that about) but every song has a purpose and a reason to exist which is more than I can say for about 98% of the content on the latest NOW compilation.

Without wanting to make Gladdish sound too much like a horse, he was bred in South-West and has matured in the North-East which gives his music an earthy, folky quality but you can also hear more modern influences woven throughout the songs. Opener 'Holding Out', for example, is as laid back as Turin Brakes ever were and has the breezy sensation of 80s song-writing acts like Del Amitri and Deacon Blue. At times, though, this album has a tendency to sound like a songwriter pitching songs to an established act and 'Coming Home To You' is the perfect example of this. There is nothing wrong with the song itself and the lyrics tell a familiar tale of a relationship in trouble but the vocal melodies and overzealous guitar soloing feels like it would be more at home on a Matt Cardle ballad than amongst this collection of otherwise carefully crafted songs. 'Sticks and Stones' shows off Gladdish's impressive piano work and it's worth pausing here to remember that, apart from a few notes of Harmonica and the aforementioned guitar solo, Gladdish does everything on this album and there are precious few talented multi-instrumentalists around these days.

Nothing inspires Nick Gladdish more
than a round of early morning golf
For me, though, it's on 'Left A Mark' that this album starts to come in to its own as the simple but pure guitar picking beautifully underlay a wistful lyric that conjures that moment when you look back one last time before pulling your collar up around your neck and forging onwards. This is followed up with 'Arrived' which could easily be 10cc or Fleetwood Mac with some understated keyboard work being the only thing that stops this track being completely a cappella. There is a definite North-East folk tinge to 'Looking Ahead, Look At Us' with its loose acoustic strumming and that Del Amitri feel is there again as well as that reflective, wistful atmosphere. Conversely, 'Steering Me Off Course' starts off with the feel of a sea-shanty but twists and turns in to the rantings of a man who has just had enough of the world and then missed his bus before being soaked by a passing car and then realising that he's left his wallet at home anyway. You know that feeling, right? 'Choked' throws a curveball in starting like a Justin Timberlake track before blossoming in to a piano-lead 80s ballad that Sparks or Roxy Music could have produced.

As this album's 11 tracks (yes, proper album length) approach the home straight, 'He Asked' comes up on the outside as a song documenting the planning and emotional tension that goes in to proposing to your girlfriend - you've got to give the guy credit for having the cojones to put that in a song (for those wondering whether she said 'aye' or 'nay', well, you'll have to get the album and find out). The album title track swaggers in to view full of lilting melodies and mandolins like a loved up drunk walking home through the early morning mist. Dressed as Rod Stewart (I make no apologies for the pictures my mind creates). Gladdish finishes up with a proper piano ballad in '(In) Your Heart' that will surely feature at the end of a movie about a guy and girl who struggle to get it together but they make it in the end and have impossibly beautiful children to run about their giant American house while they bake cupcakes and illustrate books. This is as genuine a love song as you're ever likely to hear so I, for one, hope it doesn't get sold to Will Young to sing as this is the kind of song that should only ever be sung by the writer to their love.

On reflection, this is an album that showcases the talents of a musician and songwriter and bares the soul of an honest, open man. There is still room for Gladdish to develop and if he could learn to play the drums that would certainly give some of these songs a richer feel but if any labels out there are interested in signing up a consistent, talented and diverse songwriter then you should jump on a train and start checking the singer-songwriter nights around Newcastle until you hear Gladdish's husky but pure tones wafting through the cold night air.

More information: www.nickgladdish.com 

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