Nick Drake was the quintessential fragile genius. His late-1960s and early-'70s albums combine pastoral, very British romanticism with a jazzy folk lilt that owes a debt to Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin. His hypnotic whisper of a voice and his virtuosic fingerpicking were the perfect emissaries for Drake's songs of quiet longing and displacement. Though he was virtually unknown during his too-short life, he would posthumously inspire a subsequent generation of artists.
Reissue of the late British folk icon's 1969 debut album. Ten tracks. Island.
There's not a single dud in the trilogy of albums that singer/songwriter Nick Drake released during his all-too-short career. And 1968's Five Leaves Left--his first album--is certainly no exception. Drake's sensitive guitar work and sensitive vocals are backed by the baroque sounds of a chamber string group, and the platter's lyrics show maturity well beyond the age of their 20-year-old creator. Sparser than its follow-up, the jazzy Bryter Layter, but less tortured than Drake's dark final chapter, Pink Moon, Five Leaves Left is a classic British folk disc. Songs like "River Man," "The Thoughts of Mary Jane," and "Day Is Done" are among Drake's finest moments. Newcomers be forewarned: this music is as infectious as it is bleak, and a purchase of Drake's boxed set Fruit Tree might be a wise investment. --Jason Verlinde
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