Nigel Brown – Looking For the Rising Sun
Independent – 2017
Based in London, Nigel Brown has had a lengthy career as a film and TV soundtrack composer, largely for Sky and the Discovery Channel, as well as three albums of library music used across most of the mainstream channels. He also records his own material as a singer-songwriter, Looking For The Rising Sun being his eighth self-released collection.
Although you’ll hear influences that range from folk to blues to country, the most obvious reference point here is Sgt Pepper era Beatles, case in point being the title track opener, a song about looking forward rather than looking back, its chiming melody and mellifluous vocals swathed in sweeping strings. Having advocated this, however, he ignores his own advice with Safe as Home, a lushly arranged reflection on more innocent times with a melody and smooth vocal that reminds me of the dreamier numbers of 10cc. Sticking with that reference point, Walls of Sanity, an evocation of a one street American town, has a more urgent, rockier drive, again recalls 10cc though is also oddly reminiscent of Deep Purple’s Black Night.
Written for his late father and built upon the electric piano, Wide Was The Sky is another dreamy track, a meeting between McCartney and Brian Wilson with some noodling guitar lines towards the fade. Evocative of early Simon & Garfunkel, the folksy fingerpicking five-minute No One Listens affords the album its political comment with references to surveillance drones and cameras and divided society, moving on to two numbers about, as Jennifer Rush would put it, the power of love, the 96 seconds acoustic fingerpicked Only Love and the melodically engaging strummed Shield My Flame with double-tracked harmonies and descending electric guitar chords.
Another issues-led track, Angry Eyes is a strummed, close harmony mid-tempo 70s-styled ballad about walking out on an abusive relationship, the album taking the upbeat path for the last two songs, the heady warm skies pastoral mood of Summer Rose, written for his daughter, and Hide Out, written for and about a friend living the peaceful, reclusive life in Brown’s own original stomping grounds of the Dartmoor hills, drawing a line under things with Sky High, a 56 second resonator guitar instrumental that had me thinking of Bert Weedon. You’ll have to make an effort to see this out, but, if you share similar musical sensibilities, it will be well worth it.