Second Grace: the Music of Nick Drake



  • Audio CD (April 10, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: World Village USA

audio clips

track list

1. Rider on the Wheel 2:58
2. Pink Moon 2:15
3. Fly 4:57
4. Parasite 5:36
5. River Man 5:14
6. One of These Things First 5:13
7. Joey 6:06
8. Introduction-Bryter Layter 3:51
9. Northern Sky 3:59
10. Hanging on a Star 5:57
11. Harvest Breed 1:44
12. Place to Be 5:43
13. Three Hours 7:25
14. From the Morning 3:28

Pianist Christopher O’Riley again dances with the possibility of cliché and instead pirouettes into art. Second Grace: The Music of Nick Drake marks his fourth album of covers, joining his two CDs of Radiohead tunes (Hold Me to This and True Love Waits) and one exploring singer-songwriter Elliott Smith (Home to Oblivion). O’Riley is attracted to quirky composers and tragic writers, and Nick Drake, who died of an overdose at 26 after only three albums, fits both bills. Although Drake had a fondness for jazz voicings and odd chord changes, he was ultimately a more direct and simpler composer than Radiohead’s Thom Yorke or Elliott Smith. O’Riley respects that in his interpretations. Whereas his previous albums often ventured into flights of unalloyed atonality, Second Grace feeds on the autumnal melodic lyricism that Drake pursued over the course of his three albums, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and, of course, Pink Moon, the title piece from which helped reignite interest in Drake’s music when Volkswagen unearthed it for a TV spot in 2000. O’Riley doesn’t attain that fragile, on-the-edge-of-disappearing voice that Drake had. Instead, he replaces it with the quiet reserve heard in the minimalist feel of “Riverman” and the breathy rhapsody on “One of These Things First.” The lounge-jazz break in the middle of that tune seems like last call at Joe’s Pub. A concert pianist, O’Riley often cites classical sources for inspiration in his arrangements, including Baroque composer Couperin in the lyrical treatment of “Introduction: Bryter Layter.” As with his previous interpretations, I’m not sure that Second Grace would actually appeal to Nick Drake fans. Instead, it stands on its own ground, a passionate and obsessive hymn to a lost voice. –John Diliberto

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