Nick Drake was an English singer, songwriter and musician who recorded three albums between 1969 and 1972 (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Later, Pink Moon). Unfortunately during his lifetime his music did not achieve great commercial success, which was probably not helped by his reluctance to perform live or to be interviewed. However his profile has since grown and he is now considered to be a highly influential acoustic songwriter.
When I listen to this album, my reaction goes beyond the base sense of hearing. This album quite simply makes me feel. While bare in its arrangement, this album has the ability to conjure up something rich and magical. As I listen I am transported to an otherworldly place of peace and beauty. Sitting there I watch clouds gather and eventually give way to soft summer rains, which sweep across the cracked, parched earth. The trees sway gently backwards and forwards in the breeze while all else is still. Drake’s music is like this; he will bring the soft rains to replenish your thirsty soul.
Pink Moon is Nick Drake’s final album released in 1972. Musically this album gets back to basics, aside from a limited amount of piano, it is all about Nick and his acoustic guitar. His voice is smooth and hangs like velvet over the accompanying guitar. Pink Moon must count amongst the most achingly beautiful albums of all time. Lyrically poetic, Nick’s songs ooze sadness and longing but rather than find the whole experience depressing, you will find yourself struck by the raw emotion and beauty of this work.
I have heard this album described as being the most ‘like Nick’ than his other works, and really how can it not be? Quite simply it is all Nick – he is the writer, singer, guitarist and pianist. The lyrics are powerful and moving and the resulting music is uncluttered, producing a wonderfully clean sound.
While the album is quite short at just over 28 minutes, I guarantee you won’t feel short-changed. This is an album for sitting, reflecting and thinking. And while it’s pretty safe to say you won’t be grooving along to any of the tracks, don’t think for a moment that you’ll lose yourself in a pit of melancholy and despair. Instead, the musical beauty and sheer talent of Nick Drake as demonstrated on this album is what will stay with you. While his artistic output was somewhat limited, he has certainly left an indelible mark on the musical world and on the souls of many.
My pick of the best songs:
Things Behind the Sun –
‘Please beware of them that stare
They only smile to see you while
Your time away.’
While I’m not a musician, the guitar work in this song sounds complex and provides the perfect balance to the simple elegance of Drake’s melancholic yet strangely hopeful vocals. This song demonstrates the rich, raw power of Drake’s voice and will leave you with a sense of peace.
Pink Moon –
‘None of you will stand so tall
Pink Moon gonna get ye all.’
Out of all the songs on this album, Pink Moon has the most uplifting sounding guitar work. This song conveys a sense of movement, it sounds like travelling music. And believe me with Drake’s stirring performance and his use of slow dragging lyrics, you will most definitely be transported. This song also demonstrates Drake’s deeper vocal range.
From the Morning –
‘A day once dawned from the ground,
Then the night she fell
And the air was beautiful,
The night she fell all around.’
For me this song is pure poetry. Once again I’m struck by the complex sounding guitar work and Nick’s pure songwriting skill. This is a beautiful song, tinged with sadness but all in all it manages to convey a sense of hope.