Armed with a whole crew of talented musicians to bring his songs to life, solo-artist Nick Peay has released the Sobering EP just a little earlier this September into the world awaiting. Those looking for an authentic acoustic/rock sound in the spirit of bands or artists like Toad The Wet Sprocket, The Fray, Nick Drake, The Head And The Heart, Gin Blossoms…that kind of melodic-rock that sounds inviting and pulls you in easily through smooth-flowing verses and bright-choruses…if that’s you, then throw on some Nick Peay and dig on some sweet rhythms through this latest effort.
I really loved the way Sobering opened with “Put This Bottle Down.” The melody comes through before anything else chimes into this song with Nick out in front and nearly on his own for those first moments. Soon accompanied by acoustic guitar, strings, a steady drumbeat & booming bass-line…this song gets BIG the way you always hope a song WILL but often never does. The chorus on “Put This Bottle Down” is a masterstroke…it’s a gorgeous melody and Nick delivers the vocals with perfect energy, emotion and genuine passion in his voice.
Continuing on into an up-tempo tune I couldn’t help but fall in love with…partially. Not gonna lie…on this one, it stops just a little short of perfection for me – and it has everything to do with the execution of the final half of the chorus…the ‘every day’ lines & rhymes. It’s so CLOSE to what I’d want on record…but there are a few moments where Nick is rising towards the top of the notes where he’s headed so far beyond the music that you can hear that it’s what he’s hearing as well…and I think you can audibly hear him pull back on a few key notes here. But other than that – this is a brilliant pop/rock tune in-full, and my observations would require a slight tweak or one more run through at best…for the most part I wouldn’t change a thing about it and even as is, it’s certainly not a song I’d pass over. None of these are.
I think where Nick shines brightest might be the dead-center of the EP with “I Won’t Fall In Love.” This hollow, melancholy & isolated tune sounds gorgeous in its melody-line and contrasts wonderfully with the sad sentiment of the lyrics. The result is a tune that you’ll end up singing along to, even though it’s pretty much about complete decimation & heartbreak! Excellent guitar-work, extremely awesome solo that leads into one of the highlight moments on the EP as Nick breaks it all down for a moment before that final run through on this emotionally-powerful chorus. He feels this one…and you can hear that through his stunning performance on “I Won’t Fall In Love.”
The third tune also marked the start of a slight deviation of the music towards a more serious vibe. “Sobering” reminds me much of Toad The Wet Sprocket…I loved those guys…but I’m LOVING this tune too. In a sense…this particular sound/style of Nick Peay, Toad etc…it’s almost surprising to me just how much it DOES resonate with me…it leans so close to Americana/Country at times but it never falls over the edge into twang-land EVER…and I love music that rides the edge of genres like this. I mean…are you LISTENING to “Sobering?” If there is a song I’ve heard this year that is worthy of taking that precious album-title – this is the track I think I’m going with. Not only does this tune start with a melancholy, dusky-brilliance – but the ending like, final two-minutes or so fucking blew my MIND OPEN. By this point of the EP, Nick should have already well-convinced you of his talent for song-writing and connecting to YOU through his melodies and music – but if you were wondering just how MUCH of a genius is living in there…listen to the title-track. “Sobering” is a fucking triumph from beginning to end; I love the writing, I love the recording, I love the words and I love the performance – this song has it all for me. There’s darkness…there’s hope…there’s a grittiness and rawness to this open-vein of a song that I connect with big time. I cannot express just how epic this ending is…I believe it is the No Fret Quartet that supply the string-sounds here on this ending against a phone left off the hook and a dose of extremely rad noise-guitar sprawling in the background. SO GOOD!
Would I make any changes to Nick Peay’s Sobering? Well hell no to making any changes on the song itself – but the EP a big hells-YES I would! I would absolutely take out that reprise of “Put This Bottle Down” that happens at the end. Whose idea was this and who the hell put them in charge? And I’m asking that question really to whomever started the ‘reprise’ to begin with…I rarely think they’re needed and on this particular EP, I almost feel like it’s nearly disrespectful to the other four songs and especially the way that they ended after being played in full. We’d done the lighter/brighter sounds of Nick…that’s what started this…and it slowly, subtly and beautifully evolved and took us on a journey as it slowly bent the atmosphere around us from the starting point to a darker ending. It’s the subtle way that this EP begins and obtains that flow & transformation that really leads it to feeling like a story with a real beginning and a REAL ending…like they were in mind all along and Nick knew he had to get from point A to point B in a precise way to pull this off. So yeah…I know I’m complaining about the reappearance of a song I enjoyed to begin with, and still do! BUT…yes…yes I still feel the way I feel – I think the reprise is unnecessary and potentially waters-down the most memorable moment of the entire EP at the end of its title-track.
Don’t let this last minute bitching of mine fool you or stop you from listening for even a single moment. Make no mistake – I loved this EP. Nick’s done a fantastic job here and each and every one of these players that assisted along the way deserves tremendous accolades for a mission truly accomplished – these songs are bursting with life in their veins.
Find out more from the Nick Peay official homepage: http://nickpeaymusic.com/
Jer@SBS – http://sleepingbagstudios.ca/