Friday, August 18, 2006

Word on the Beat:: Will Stratton & Nick Drake

Another fantastic entry for our Word on the Beat series. Will Stratton is a gifted singer/songwriter from NJ. He's about to release his debut CD on Stunning Models on Display.

Want a review? Read our thoughts on the record here.

Anyone who listens to Will's songs would guess he's a Nick Drake fan, so much so that he chose to talk about how's Nick's style affects his music. The album, Pink Moon. The song, Place to Be.

Here's what Will had to say:
I can't be hip and say I knew about the music of Nick Drake since I was in the womb or anything like that. My brother heard him on that Volkswagen Cabrio commercial however many years ago, and before I knew it I was surrounded by his ghost.

"Pink Moon" is my favorite album of all time. People say it sounds sad or depressed but most of the time I just don't hear it that way. Nick was definitely a fragile man at the end of his life, but in his guitar work and his vocals I hear such indescribable hopefulness and certainty. He was never the lyricist that early Dylan was, never electing to paint a picture of his contemporaries, instead preferring to write spare lyrics that sounded more like 150-year-old Romantic poetry, but there's no shame in that. If his lyrics were an iota more engaging they would be vying for attention, distracting from his fantastic hands and voice.

There are lots of reasons why "Pink Moon" stands out for me. The fact that it is so spartan makes the one piano overdub on the title track that much more powerful. The sound of the guitar and vocals are so sonically complete, so lush and yet so simple, that even the production of the album almost moves me to tears with its beauty. The
songs themselves are another matter entirely. Despite the simplicity of the recording itself, songs like "From The Morning," my favorite on the album, and "Parasite," one of the darker tracks, are so casually complex, crafted with such natural, intuitive skill, that it's heartbreaking. I know I'll never record an album like it, but it is a pleasure to strive for such a lofty goal anyway.

I decided to cover the song "Place To Be." It's one of the simpler songs, conveniently, but it's also the one that speaks to me the most these days. I think that it's a song about humility, about losing yourself in another person even as you struggle with everyday tests of maturity and resolve. And, for me anyway, it's a song with an unmistakable joy in it somewhere. It's quiet, but it's there if you look. My recording of it is simple, done in one take like his (you can even hear me shuffle the lyrics sheet around before the third verse), because to overdub anything on a track from "Pink Moon," or to subvert its aesthetic is decadent and forbidden. At least I think so, being a Nick Drake fundamentalist. My cover doesn't even come close to the original.
Check out his fantastic cover:
MP3:: Place to Be - Will Stratton herohill WOTB

Posted at 11:10 AM by ack :: 0 comments

add to facebook add to del.icio.us Digg this Googlize this post add to Yahoo