This is a review of "2nd Album" recorded by Rob Nichols. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2001.
Rob Nichols is some rare creature darting across the normally beaten tracks with a flurry of noises and graceful swerves, to disappear in the woods and haunt your memory weeks later. This elusive and delicate music, Rob's second solo album, is another great treasure from the burgeoning Leeds Real Music scene.
The songs are set in real scenes. Street names (Welsh Avenue and Reservoir Street), place names (Lewes) and journeys (by train or long march) give the songs continuity and reality. There's nostalgia, yearning, resignation and anxiety in thick enough slices to nourish any heart. Each song has a warm confiding voice and at least one acoustic guitar. A fine collection of ambient, live, studio moulded or session recorded instruments fill out the loneliness and the wonder of it. Some of it sounds like the best kind of experimental with secret noises way down in the mix that make you reach in, like putting your hand into a deep clear pool for small shiny pebbles. There are bursts of nearly straightforward electric band.
I really love the down home guitar organ and simple snare on track 3. Its "54 Reservoir Street, I'm out of luck." is an open ended, gritty and emotionally real line that epitomises the whole CD. That particular song is one of those that I play over and over trying to hang on to the raw feeling for as long as I can. It's 2 minutes 45 seconds, and it seems like about half that. But every track has its aural pleasures. The upright bass on "Modern Jazz" is just perfect, and what a treat it is when the gentle keyboard cuts in.
The sixties generation like me can hear the fresh Scots guitar of Bert Jansch. Younger intelligent listeners will think of Will Oldham or Owen Mcaulay. The comparisons don't matter though. It's just nice to report that here is someone who can hold the stages these people have played on. It's not Nu Acoustic. It's complete music. An investment of time in Rob's music will repay you many times over. He's doing a load of gigs during October all listed on his astonishingly technical website. But don't miss Joseph's Well on Sunday 14th. In York hear him at Borders on October 13th. His CD is in all the good shops in Leeds. You cannot resist it. It will become your friend and your comfort.