FRANZ NICOLAY: New River: LP

Mar 10, 2023

This album doesn’t try to match conventions set by pioneers of punkish-cabaret-folk, or however you’d like to think of it, like Billy Bragg, The Pogues, Tom Waits, and They Might Be Giants. Nicolay makes his own thing out of it. The riffs are always well executed. The album opens with the lofty “Wandering Star,” a fast-paced, folkish number with nice melodies. “Beaten for the Light” brings the hammer with a bass saxophone accenting the chorus, cleverly shaping an already catchy chorus. This is one of my favorites, as the album slips into a Jethro Tull-meets-Fugazi moment to show you not to always expect the obvious. It’s a really clever song. Side A ends with a sleepy piano number called “It’s Dawn.” Side B opens with “Your Ode Played French Horns,” which gears up again into punky guitar riffs. From there, the album takes on more songs with traditional rock band accompaniment, but there’s always an interesting note blown here or there and the songwriting shows through on the whole album. –Billups Allen (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)

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