By Rob Nichols
Rob Nichols has become a familiar face in Leeds of late after regular performances in the city, and he recently reached the final of the BBC's ReCovered competition with his acoustic take on Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart. On this three-track CD, however, Nichols chooses to showcase three original songs which suggest that he takes much of his inspiration from more gentle, less frantic sources than Ian Curtis and co. Opener I Was Always Wrong is a beautiful, understated reflection on relationships, and its lilting melody suits perfectly Nichols's melancholy vocal style. The wistful mood continues on Welsh Avenue, a piano-led quest for identity, empathy and self-understanding. Third track Not The Way It Goes, meanwhile, teases the listener with an opening guitar flourish reminiscent of Johnny Marr's sumptuous intro on That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore, but instead blends into the stripped-down acoustic sound of the earlier tracks.
Well-crafted as they are, it would be interesting to hear whether these three tracks could be given additional edge with a more prominent role for the backing band, and indeed Nichols has recently taken to performing live with such an arrangement.
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