.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/7cd90f65266b731ea5f11b2da1d5255218d43d3c.jpg Bryter Layter

Nick Drake

Bryter Layter

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
June 30, 1977

Nick Drake may be the most ethereal recording artist I've ever heard. His fleeting career — the moody, mysterious music, the remote relationship with his record company — seemed calculated to distance him from reality. Yet his hushed songs touch a rare tranquillity that approaches poetry, and when he died in 1974 at the age of 26, he left behind three albums which are gradually making him a posthumous legend. Bryter Layter is the second of these LPs to be rereleased by Island Records through its remarkable budget label, Antilles.

 

Drake's melodies are seldom less than enchanting. Built around acoustic folk-jazz guitar figures and muffled percussion, they become emotionally charged when shaded by arranger Robert Kirby's poignant, eddying strings. Drake's impressionistic lyrics are vivid but provocatively sketchy, making them as curiously personal as phrases mumbled in sleep. They're delivered in an airy, nearly unconscious whisper that blends as naturally into the arrangements as a breeze rippling through tall grass.

Compared to the gloomy, vinegary, autumnal Five Leaves Left and the reportedly stark Pink Moon, Drake's second album is a relatively pleasant collection. "Bryter Layter" and "Sunday" are light, carefree flute instrumental, and the cantering Hazey Jane II" is positively brisk (though qualified by some disturbing lyrics). "Northern Sky" gently details how a loved one has enhanced his appreciation of life.

Even in his best moods, though, Drake seems to be reaching out from a position of isolation to a like soul, as in "Hazey Jane I": "Do you feel like a remnant of something that's past?" More characteristic is the intensely considered solitude of "Poor Boy," "One of These Things First" (a light waltz about possibilities dismissed) and "Fly," which features John Cale's moaning viola.

Whether obscurely introspective or groping outward, Drake seems to be communing with a pantheistic spirit; he consistently charts this communion with stirring empathy and authenticity — but not clarity. It's a measure of his instinct for maintaining a sense of mystery that Bryter Layter's reflections are as ephemeral as a man's breath on a mirror.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Stillness Is the Move”

    Dirty Projectors | 2009

    A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com