My reviews of Nick Drake’s three studio albums.
1969: Five Leaves Left (9/10)
The first Nick Drave album I ever bought and the one I’ve listened to the most, far and away, and yet and I never wrote a proper review.
Drake’s voice make his songwriting sound distinct. I’m not sure how truly distinct it is, but his voice is distinct enough to carry the songs. The songs are good, though; catchy and full of more musical creativity than a lot of the singer-songwriters of this ilk who became famous in the ’70s.
Drake’s playing is a highlight, as you probably know. But the arrangements are too. Idiosyncratic combinations of instruments just adding enough in addition to Drake and his guitar to flesh out the songs.
Though I found out about Drake through “Pink Moon” in the VW commercial, like everyone my age, this is the album that converted me.
1971: Bryter Layter (6/10)
I’ve vacillated greatly on this one over the years. I wrote a “review” sometime between 2005 and 2016 saying the following:
Most of this doesn’t work, except for “Poor Boy,” “Northern Sky” and maybe one or two others.
That feels harsh to me but there’s no denying this record is incredibly overproduced and Drake’s music is best when it is simpler, whether on his debut (where there are some frills, but nothing like this) or on his final record.
I bet I like this more if I listen to it again.
1972: Pink Moon (10/10)
As close to a perfect singer-songwriter record as exists from the 70s in my mind – brief but brittle and raw in a way that so little singer-songwriter stuff was in the ’70s. Basically, if you listen to one Nick Drake album, it’s this one.
2023: I haven’t listened to this in a while but I do think Drake’s death colours everyone’s love of this record just a bit. It does utterly stand out among the music of the time for its starkness.