I suppose every album that you remember has context, it has it’s features that appeal to you, but there is a reason as to why it struck you at that moment – and why you’ve clung on to it for so long. Everyone has their Crappy Day Album, for years mine has been J.J. Cale’s 1980 Shades album, you will no doubt have something serving a similar purpose. Whether it was because it spoke to you at the time or because it was all a magic accident, one way or another this album is with you for life and there is nowt you can do about it.
Now on Friday 4th March I wasn’t too far gone, but I was certainly at the end of my tether. Someone or something had set me off, and whilst I won’t dwell on it now, someone or something had to bring me back. Enter Stevie Nimmo, who as far as I am concerned dropped Sky Won’t Fall at just the right time.
I’ve waited a few weeks to write this review, just to check for my own sanity that I am not the only person on the planet getting hyped about this album. However, Sky Won’t Fall is flying and there is not a lot out there right now that can stop it, no doubt much to the delight of record label Manhaton Records.
The album is emotionally-charged feast with an abundance of raw power and energy, just what anyone would want to bump into on a Friday afternoon. Nimmo jumps from in your face riffing to tracks where guitar is almost non-existent, from rock vocals of a confident man to the most soulful blues of a broken man – Nimmo manages his variations effortlessly. Sky Won’t Fall confidently declares that Nimmo is back, but loaded with the bite of a man who’s well prepared to dwell on the path he’s travelled.
You’d be forgiven for checking your speakers 10 seconds in, beginning with silence, then crackling, then feedback. At 25 seconds it drops into a hard rocky riff that hurts your head after the time you spent faffing with your speakers. On the opener Chains Of Hope Nimmo’s vocals are confident, he sounds in great shape. The first thing that hits you is the riff – but the song altogether is a great opener with a cracking chorus.
The albums best guitar riff comes from Roll The Dice Again which I recall had us all buzzing at the gig at the Half Moon in Putney. (Find our recent review by clicking here.) Nimmo makes great use of the guitar layers in the studio, creating an awesome wall of sound, which surprisingly plays well on all devices. Again Nimmo’s vocals are bold and not the soulful Nimmo we have come to know so well, but impeccable nonetheless. Loaded with nice solos and a lonely lead guitar riff to finish, this track will turn heads.
As if realising he has blown the doors off on the opening tracks, Stevie falls back into the mould we have come to know him for. However, on Change he takes nothing for granted. With soothing, soulful vocals, over the top of gentle guitar and excellent and intricate work from the rhythm section, Nimmo demonstrates he’s not a one man band. Proudly declaring on the chorus “I Can Change!”, I’m in no position to argue given the treat we’ve had so far. He rips into a brilliant solo, standing out from the toned-down guitar for the rest of the track.
Another one we’ve heard before and have been looking forward to is Running On Back To You, keeping the soulful mood of the previous track. Whatever mood Nimmo is in, we need to keep him this way for the next decade. The solos are perfect, again in contrast to a track where he lets the rhythm section get on with it, almost in B.B. King fashion. Stevie can do the work on his guitar but needs not shove it down your throat, and his measured, cultured approach is what makes this album so damn easy to listen to. He’s not the type to need to make his work a complex puzzle for his audience.
Walk The Thin Line is a stretch back to his last album The Wynds Of Life, adopting acoustic guitars and utilising his voice in an almost country style, heavily adopting some of his American influences. If you was worked up at the start, you’re almost certainly relaxed now. Another pinnacle in the album I’ll Pray For You relies once again on the excellent rhythm section working in harmony with Nimmo’s balanced guitar work. The most commercially sensitive track album by far, sounding very similar to Jonny Lang‘s recent work. At various points throughout this album has called out to a new audience without forgetting the sounds and fans that have made him the artist he is today.
Still Hungry brings the rockier side of Nimmo back to the forefront, before slipping into some more mellow work on Gambler’s Roll which will undoubtedly become a popular track to play live. The album is by no means hurried to a conclusion, the upbeat Lovin’ Might Do Us Good bring the tempo and energy back up. The gentle acoustic number Love You More Tonight brings the album to a gentle close. Despite taking you on a spellbinding, at times emotional journey through Stevie Nimmo’s psyche – the void left after track 10 makes you want to press repeat on the album again.
Nimmo has excelled himself on this album, not to be described as in-your-face full on arrogant blues rock, but neither as a drifting artist putting out a drifting album. He has found a perfect balance. The album is well written, and well produced, but most importantly it has a feeling of class and is a real treat for listeners. Whilst Nimmo has found his sound, he has also found his place in my record collection with a record that means something to me – I hope he’s proud.
Stay in tonight and listen to this album, go out for a drive tonight and listen to this album, whatever happens don’t miss it – it could mean something to you too. For the iTunes lovers like myself pick up the album today by clicking here, or on Spotify by clicking here. In the meantime check out this short video below for Gambler’s Roll – thank you for reading.