I received this double CD set a few weeks back after pre-ordering it in early April as part of Nick's self-funding efforts on Pledgemusic. Nick's in love again and wants to express it through song (as someone wrote in an Amazon review: "'I love this girl. She's the one. I'm happy and content. I want our life together to go on and on. She's the sun, moon, and stars.' That's the theme. Yeah, I get it.") So I'll focus more on music than lyrics which is my m.o. anyway. There's nothing similar to Haircut 100 tunes on this thing, but there's some great cuts that sometimes hearken back to his earlier solo work. The critics like it:
and it's easily his best work since 1995's Tangled. Metacritic currently has it rated at 81 which sounds about right.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart, but debuted at #89 on the UK charts.
- Love Is The Key By The Sea - a beautiful waltz and my current favorite track on the album.
- Mountaintop - I'm not wild about this foray into the pseudo-country genre (complete with fiddle solo) but I'll be damned if I don't sing along anyway because it's such a happy tune.
- The Stars - sounds like it could have been on Nick's 1993 album, From Monday to Sunday and that's a good thing. '90s college/singer-songriter pop still exists in 2017.
- Beautiful Morning - a laid back acoustic ballad. Pretty, but not much to hold my interest for four and half minutes.
- Who? - in which Nick does his best imitation of Michael Buble with some measure of success. Wish it swung a little harder, but I like it nonetheless.
- Forest of Love - starts as a quirky little number à la TMBG, but then the tension is released when it goes into the chorus. Typical beautiful Nick melody over a descending bassline. I really like the coda that starts about 2:30 in.
- Baby Blue Sky - currently my second favorite tune on this album, this song echoes back to his '90s work when he was being compared to Oasis. Feel good music with beautiful harmonies.
- I Can See Her - a mid-tempo Beatlesque love song complete with string quartet on the chorus and slide guitar solo in the manner of George Harrison. One of Nick's strengths is writing bridges and this song is a good example of that.
- Perfect Sunday Sun - another Britpop throwback which is, beneath the wall of electric guitar, catchy as hell.
- New Beginning - enjoyable acoustic instrumental interlude, perfectly sequenced
- I Got a Lot - Good chorus hampered by a bland verse. Pleasant but not memorable. Notable for an appearance by former Haircut 100 drummer Blair Cunningham.
- For Always - My least favorite cut. A bland way to end the album. Needs salt?
Bonus tracks (for some reason, the bonus tracks are on a separate disc, which is a pain for 9 minutes worth of tunes but whatevs):
- Angelfish - Nick's attempt an an all-out rocker. Can't blame him for trying, but easy to see why this wasn't included on the album: it sounds nothing like a Nick Heyward tune.
- Make It Happen - Another rocker, but this one is more melodic and more adventurous with the chords. Might have been big on the '90s rock charts, but again, apart from the Heyward norms.
- Back Together - a fun ukulele-driven love song which should have been the album closer instead of For Always so that's the way I'll hear the album from this point forward.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None as it is a new release, but if you've followed this blog for very long, you know that I sprung for this mediabook:
My copy is 78/1500. The companion book is lyrics and Nick's photography, which is better than it probably should be (I'm just saying that because I wish I had that talent).
Previously revisited for the blog:
Live At The IndigO2 28th Jan 2011 (2011)
The Mermaid And The Lighthouse Keeper (2006)
The Apple Bed (1998)
Stars In Her Eyes (1998)
The Man You Used To Be (1997)
A Hard Days Nick (1996)
The Greatest Hits of Nick Heyward & Haircut 100 (1996)
The World (1995)
From Monday To Sunday (1993)
He Doesn't Love You Like I Do (1993)
The Best of Nick Heyward & Haircut 100 (1989)
I Love You Avenue (1988)
You're My World (1988)
Postcards From Home (1986)
North of a Miracle (1983)
Pelican West (1982) and Deluxe Edition (2016)