Nick Peay - Feathers And Fables
Kentucky is one of those places which is well-known in the UK, largely for all the wrong reasons. It is the home, for instance, of that weird Museum of Creation which attempts to demonstrate, by pseudo-scientific "evidence", that the world was created 6004 years ago - on a Tuesday. At best, odd, and Kentucky native Nick Peay capitalises on oddity by utilising the ukulele as the basis for the music on his previous work.
In that sense, his latest EP, Feathers and Fables, may be seen as something of a departure for the ukulele scarcely gets a look in. The four songs on the EP have a suitably avian theme to go with the title. The opener, "(Two Miserable) Blackbirds", has a solid electric guitar providing the basis for the music, complete with guitar solo. Of course, this wouldn't be Kentuckian without a harmonica, but overall what you get is a song which is probably the most commercial on the EP - catchy and snappy, this is the sort of song which you could hear on some of the less anally retentive commercial radio stations.
An almost complete change of pace comes with "Fly Away". The electric guitar is still evident, providing body and depth to the song, but the main focus is on a more gentle acoustic guitar - a sort of Eagles unplugged, but without the faux southern-ness of that band. In fact, pinning down influences is a hard job with Peay. I swear that "Home", which features that blackbird again and is the best track on the EP, has an acoustic guitar line which could easily be mistaken for Jimmy Page in his more reflective moments, though the song sounds nothing like Page. Slide guitars feature, almost as if Peay is leaving behind the occasional marker for listeners to identify his geographical roots. Yet if I had enough talent to play a guitar in front of people, this is the kind of song I would play. The EP rounds off with "Mockingbird" which begins with an almost Billy Bragg-esque guitar intro before introducing tabla drums and a slide guitar.
Nick Peay is obviously someone with a lot of talent. Musically the songs are well-formed and appealing. The lyrics may need a little work as they are sometimes too clichéd, but that should not detract with what is an enjoyable, sing-along kind of EP. It may not stretch you, or appeal to your rebellious side, but then why should it. Feathers and Fables is an EP of good, crisp songs with a flavour which takes them away from the rigid formula of a lot of music. And that can only be a good thing.
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