Its five to six and the suns already dipped away. Nothing but thick grey clouds, slashing winds and piercing drips of rain. And I can feel a cold coming on at the back of my throat. That can only mean its time for some Nick Drake.
Now I’m not putting the Pink Moon album on just to add to how gloomy and cold I feel, but rather to get all nicely warmed up.
Pink Moon is Nick’s barest album, featuring just him and his guitar (with slight piano on one track). Its also Nick’s shortest album, just barely clocking in at half an hour, whereas his previous two albums rounded in at a tidier 40 minutes. But this is by no means Nick’s simplest album.
If anything, its certainly is most complex in terms if its background. Always the silent, possibly tormented recluse, by the time he made this album his previous two albums had barely made any impact, but that had ironically made an impact on him. He became more and more withdrawn into himself, but before he ultimately took the most drastic steps, he left behind two sets of songs.
One was the very final session he did with producer John Wood, who handled his other work. The other was this gem, Pink Moon. The songs are typically lush and elegant in true Drake fashion, but the style is far more naked than the subtlety slick jazz of Bryter Layter or the sweetly swelling orchestrations of Five Leaves Left.
The lyrics are also borderline suicidal, a not so subtle revelation at his mental state at the time. And yet, as Nick croons his way throughout the album, he sounds quietly at peace with himself, not exactly happy, but still, peaceful. As if he knew what was to become of him and readily accepting these future events.
All this may add up to pretty macabre listening, but its Nick’s guitar that manages to save the day. He plays it with pure fragile majesty, and this album is perhaps the best example of his skills as an instrumentalist as it s not cluttered by saxophones, drums, keyboards or bass. Whether it’s the swirling strums of the title track, the sparse instrumental Horn or the murmured plucking of Road, even as he plays in the most minor of keys, it all adds up to a thing of beauty.
As is the album as a whole. There really isn’t much to this album really, its Nick, his guitar a tad of piano and about 28 minutes worth of original music.
And yet this is one of the records I’ll take with me to the end of the earth. It’s more than a collection of songs. At this point, Nick had surely given up any chance of commercial success, as Pink Moon is such a delicate and naked sounding record its really has to be listened to in certain moods and at certain times.
But when those times and moods arise, Pink Moon is such a rewarding experience, and even though its songs may be cold, its sound is warm. And with every listen, it does exactly that, more so than any Lemsip.