A few months ago, we got a rather humble email from Halifax’s Nick Everett asking us to take a listen to his debut EP. The Teitur-inspired melodies and surprising maturity of his lyrics won us over instantly and put the young Nova Scotian on the map.
Not surprisingly, Nick is hitting the road hoping to get his songs heard by new people. This time around he’s heading up to Ontario and back with Poplar Pines, and they have created a new split EP to celebrate the occasion. Everett offers four songs, and while his lyrics still draw you in and the subtle picked guitar notes are still the center piece, Rocky Top is full of more spontaneous songs written for a stage, not a collection of thoughts worked and reworked in a quiet bedroom and then perfected during a long recording process.
This songs are about experimentation. The EP opens with distorted strings and an ominous horn and over time Nick adds group vocals and banjo to the mix. “Liar” starts with the simple chug of an electric guitar but the clacking percussion, textures and sonic eruptions really work with the melody and hint at a diversity I didn’t think Everett would find this early in his career. The closer, “Sit, Listen”, is the most risky and ultimately, the most rewarding. Everett distorts his vocals and allows them to move a part of the stream, not as a defining element. His guitar is tucked underneath percussion and machine/garage like clanks, and while maybe unexpected, the collage is impressive.
For the most part, Rocky Top is completely contrary to the polished, ear pleasing melodies of his last EP (only “Where Are You?” comes close, but the lo-fi recording style and background noise keep the edges roughed), but is a logical and necessary evolution for the young songwriter. Undoubtedly, the next few years will consist of him stand alone on stage introducing loops and textures to his already polished repertoire will help keep the audience engaged prevent the pleasantness meld into one long, background chatter filled song. All too often the songwriter exists best in recorded form and only a few long drawn out, European tour stories prevent the live experience from being a note for note replication. Rocky Top proves Everett can sound good in your headphones, but will be able to handle himself in a live setting as well.