Monday, May 11, 2015


I have this idea that some albums have settings, that, like a narrative, they happen in a specific place. Listening to Nick Craine's first album in fifteen years, Songs Like Tattoos, I picture a cavernous room with only Craine in there, joined from time to time by an impressive line-up of pals. There's a way Craine lets his voice sustain until it becomes ambient, even gaseous, seeming to fill up and enliven that empty space. The performances here are sparse, but Craine gives room for the sounds he does make to resonate, to take on extra meaning, extra feeling in that resonance, finding all the nooks and crannies of this huge space I like to imagine the album taking place in.

Fans of Craine's previous album, November Moon, might pout some upon finding a cover album here. Craine and Friends tackle the likes of Bruce Spingsteen, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Stevie Wonder, but don't settle on the sources so much as they use them as jumping off points. Classics have a way of becoming restrictive, but Craine imbues each track with a crooning and noodling that's uniquely his, each sounding like a denizen from the same source.

- Andrew

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