Monday, 9 August 2010

Nicholas Stevenson - The Aeroplane Darling (Idle Hands Records)

On Nicholas Stevenson’s debut album, ‘Dearest Monstrous’, his sound held a hearty dose of sensitivity. It was evident and apparent in the guitar pluckings and elegantly fragile voice of Mr Stevenson, who recorded the whole thing in his bedroom. Such a homemade product had a heartfelt sensibility fused to the package, as if the intimacy grafted itself onto the music. With the release of a new EP, ‘The Aeroplane Darling’, it is worth asking whether any of this intimacy will be lost with the introduction of higher production values and the lack of an initial amateur approach.

‘The Aeroplane Darling’ is a five track EP with a wonderfully illustrated cover, setting up pre-listen high hopes to the likes of people like me, who find a beautiful cover an inviting entrance to a piece of music. The placid acoustic sound is still there and the vocals still seem on the verge of breaking, even more emotionally evocative than before if possible. Opener ‘Ernest’ is a troubled Elliot Smith-like wander into trembling refrains and dejected dreams. Thankfully, we still have the same storytelling sense, steeped in feeling and profundity. Stevenson has somehow managed to retain the overall attitude from his earlier work, transferring it flawlessly, albeit with the addition of some new instruments.

Highlight ‘Cambridge’ is a remarkable re-telling of spirited, youthful memories, instantly reminiscent to anyone who has left behind a city of fond friends and heart-warming history. Stevenson croons “Oh my oldest, my dearest friends” to unseen, past pals, reiterating a strikingly solemn sensation.

Nicholas Stevenson is a singer-songwriter with both a literary talent and a musical ear for the nostalgic, calling to mind similar artists such as Conor Oberst and even Leonard Cohen. He has some way to go yet but from such early releases, he seems to be heading somewhere passionately and dramatically. With each song and artistic exhalation, he takes his stories, voice and guitar on a journey that must only improve with the extension of what makes his talent so accessible, genuine experience and an existence through a kaleidoscope of emotion and music.

Words : Adam Parker

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