ARCHIVE008: Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left

Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left

I’ve spent much of the weekend pondering on what to write in these few paragraphs to try and do justice to one of my favourite albums by one of the finest guitarists/singers that has ever lived. Not only is it technically excellent as you’d expect from someone of Drake’s calibre, it’s just the perfect album in every way. What is a perfect album? Well on paper I would say around 10 tracks clocking in at around 4o minutes, with plenty of variation and techniques but with a thread that ties everything together – with each and every track being highly listenable. (I.e no skipping!).

So Mr. Drake’s first record would tick all of these boxes perfectly but ticking boxes and hitting criteria is not what good music is all about. In my view, to some degree neither is impeccable technical ability. Drake’s work was never showy; he was never a showy person and this forms part of the whole charm of his work.
I have everything Drake put out in his all too short discography and although Pink Moon and Bryter Layter are great listens, Five Leaves Left is the one record that I can listen to every second of, sinking deeper the more I hear it.

The album opens with ‘Time Has Told Me’, which is a bright and open piece – perhaps seeing Drake fit into a more ‘pop’ bracket. The key changes and the laid-back guitar and piano with Drake’s soft voice manage to keep the more experimental taste satisfied. It is followed by ‘River Man’ which is more subdued and brings in the swathes of melancholy that make Drake’s work so appealing to my ears. ‘Three Hours’ is a wonderful guitar  and vocal performance accompanied by bass and percussion. ‘Way To Blue’ brings in a beautifully stately string arrangement before ‘Day Is Done’ continues this theme but with the addition of guitar. ‘Cello Song’ leans a little more towards Folk music which flows nicely into ‘The Thoughts Of Mary Jane’ which includes woodwind. The more upbeat ‘Man In A Shed’ follows before the iconic ‘Fruit Tree’ takes its place as the penultimate track in this fabulous album. It’s all rounded off with the slow and melancholy ‘Saturday Sun’, drawing ‘Five Leaves Left’ to its close.

After such a while spent pondering what to write, I’ve come to decide that just merely posting up a link to the album will do more for anyone who hasn’t discovered this artist. Just click buy or play, and listen. It doesn’t get much better than this…

Click the image above or HERE to check out this album. Or you can hit play on the video below