Nick Dellar Flying Fish
Self-Released – 2017
As soon as the jazz-inspired opening jig Monkey Bounce leads us into Nick Dellar‘s lovely new LP, a smile begins to spread upon one’s face. What I immediately appreciated on this twelve string composition were the imperfections, which may sound like a flippant back-hander, but is a bona fide positive these days. There is the sense of a microphone sneaking in slightly closer to the beautiful Fylde guitar to pick up the subtleties and nuances of the playing; there is a little bit of buzz here and there and the sound of fingers on frets that is so often erased or air-brushed from modern recordings.
The mood of the pieces shift and change almost continually throughout the set, leaving the listener no chance to become complacent. It’s a sign of experience in a solo player who can tweak the emotion and environment of an an album several times throughout, seemingly with just the guitar machine heads. The playful mood of Monkey Bounce (how could a tune with that title not be playful?) wanders into gentle beauty in the title track, a six string CGCGCD number that uses the lesser strung instrument to create a sense of space and calm that becomes almost meditative in a Richard Osborn sense. Elsewhere, things get more grown up and serious on City Dust, where the bends and back-street mode bring to mind an environment where Dellar may be slightly less at home. The setting shifts straight back to the country on Dead Leaves, however, and brings Chuck Johnson to mind on an album highlight with a gorgeous melody.
Dellar plays with many styles on this impressive album, and the picking is so beautifully human throughout that it feels like an antithesis to many of the click-track recorded sessions we hear. It is a less pristine and purer thing, with levels of complex simplicity; the lovely refrain twinkling through Carillon, mid-way through is almost minor in its delivery, but sticks in the mind until after the following track. We even get a train song in Holmes Chapel Flyer! For me this immediately evokes Fahey and his Railroad I album, but, like the rest of Flying Fish, the tune feels original and confident. Also, unlike many of the tunes on the album, the playing here is quite frenetic and urgent. It bookends nicely with the easy-going Monkey Bounce and works well with that song’s companion piece Monkey Tired, a mid-point relaxed Weissenborn led number that nicely links back and creates cohesion in a varied and rewarding set.
Available via Bandcamp: https://nickdellar.bandcamp.com/