Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Pink Moon" by Nick Drake (February, 1972)

Brad's Take:

This is a complete change of pace, compared to that ELP album we reviewed just before this.

Pink Moon was Nick Drake's final studio album before he died of overdosing on depression medication at only 26 years old. Drake decided to make a solo acoustic album this time around, with just him and the sound engineer in the recording studio. The studio was booked during the day so in just two nights, Nick and his engineer would go in to record at 11pm and record during the night. It's pretty crazy to think that in just two nights, they recorded an album that became so influential.

Nick Drake is one of the many artists that got really popular posthumously. You can hear his influence in lots of current artists, such as Mike Kinsella and Mark Kozelek, especially with the use of alternate guitar tunings, which Nick Drake really liked using. Nick was self-taught on the guitar, and when he was trying to do complex guitar chords, he'd experiment with tuning certain strings differently in order to be able to play those chords easier. His guitar playing on this album is really lovely.

It's hard to name specific songs that I like because I really liked them all. One of the more interesting ones though is "Know." It repeats one little guitar riff over and over throughout the song.

I'm glad this album is on our list. Otherwise, I may have never listened to it. Everything about Pink Moon is beautiful. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely come back to it, and will add it to my ever-growing list of albums to find for my vinyl collection.

Dad's Take:

If you thought Joni Mitchell's Blue was personal, wait until you hear this.

This album is just downright shy. Nick Drake went into the studio after hours with nobody else but his engineer and recorded it without the help of any other musicians. The benefit of this technique is that the record is completely bereft of any trendy contemporary production or musical influences. A guy with his guitar is pretty much always going to sound timeless, and so this album sounds as 2015 as it does 1972. Which is interesting, considering how much better known Drake is now than he ever was when he was alive.

Each song is beautiful, with poetic (if sometimes hard to understand) lyrics and gorgeous guitar playing with interesting tunings. Because of the stripped-down recording technique, each song blends with the others, making it difficult for a reviewer to single out individual tracks, but creating a 28-minute musical painting that gets richer each time you examine it.

Drake's life was, by all accounts, pure torture, but I'm glad he had the strength to share his work. Pity that this remarkable artist died without ever knowing how beloved his music would become, and how much he would influence songwriters for several decades to come.

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