Sunday, 16 February 2014

Album Review: Why Is The Sky Blue? - Nick Cope

Nick Cope is an English musician based in Oxford, and former front man of nineties indie rockers The Candyskins.  Nick has already released three albums, and his latest effort, Why Is The Sky Blue? is superb.  Released in 2012, the album contains ten highly memorable songs that demonstrate his ability to skillfully merge a number of influences to create a highly unique sound.  Furthermore, the songwriting is of the highest standard, and delivered with top-drawer musicianship.

Indeed every song is a winner.  The title track “Why Is The Sky Blue?” is reminiscent of Ray Davies at his best, "Wobbly Tooth” adapts a traditional nursery rhyme with precision and flair.  “Dirty Washing” and “Crazy Dinner Lady” both benefit from some beautiful guitar picking.  “There’s a Nose in the Middle of My Face” is delivered with a hypnotic, almost Andy Partridge intensity.

Other standout tracks include “Whole Lotta Fun,” an action song celebrating togetherness and unity with its truly anthemic chorus.  “Pizza pie", with its slight country feel, describes the delights and hazards of baking and distributing pizza.  “Snowman Kind Of Day” has some uplifting children’s harmonies on the chorus. “The Story Of The Very Silly Dog,” is more punchy and up tempo, and “Tidy Up”, a song reminiscent of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” may enable the over stressed teacher to restore order in the classroom.

The production is simple and effective, allowing the rich variety of melodies and technically perfect vocal delivery to really soar.  The acoustic guitar is played superbly throughout, and the tasteful use of strings adds a warm texture to the overall sound.  Although this is essentially a fun album with plenty of sing-along tunes, occasionally, songs such as “Crazy Dinner Lady” reveal a slight hint of melancholy, unusual on a children’s album, but rewarding for the listener.

Although the album appears to have no obvious theme, the title track “Why Is The Sky Blue?” suggests the songs may have been pitched at the enquiring mind of the young child and their early experiences, both visual and physical.  Whether they are wrestling with a wobbly tooth, having to help tidy up, learning to share food, or simply staring at the sky in wonder, early critical awareness and the importance of developing negotiation skills are clearly addressed.

This is a truly outstanding album, well written, and superbly produced, containing great songs, which should appeal to both young and old.  Nothing sounds contrived, the lyrics tell their own story, and are delivered with the kind of heart-felt emotion, which engages the listener throughout.  If you are a fan of the Lightning Seeds, XTC, Pulp or Scritti Politti you will love this album, and I am sure your children will too.

It seems Britpop is back, but this time for the little ones.

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