With such a prominent name, you might initially approach The Sad Song Co. (aka Nigel Powell) with caution of it being the mere sound of dreariness and complaints. I can assure you, though, that this is not an artist who revels in self pity but, instead, has used a variety of personal and metaphorical experience to create an album which exudes nothing but the fresh breeze of life. The Sad Song Co.’s Worth is an album you need on your playlists to get this year under way.
I had no idea what to expect from this album and, as we open with ‘Lifestyles’ and the mellow guitar, almost western folk vocals and a rustic feel floods in, I thought I had a concept of where this album was heading. The incredibly strong songwriting, powerful voice and general track growth was already impressive enough, but was far from the truth of what it means to be a Sad Song Co. record. Heading into the following ‘I Don’t See It’, we’re introduced to a drastically different sound, an almost minimalist electronica which uses simplistic but delicate synth to create a ghostly aura around the track. It is at this point you realise that Nigel is no one trick artist and that we may have stumbled across possibly one of the best multi instrumentalists of the year.
I’ve written before (and will certainly write again) that the key to making any album memorable is the element of surprise, throwing one or maybe two tracks which completely differ from the rest of your material breaks up the pacing and makes the different tracks act as strong pillars which the other songs can flow nicely through. This is not the case for The Sad Song Co. however, as EVERY SINGLE ONE of the tracks on this album couldn’t be any more varied from the last, making an album which is not only musically enticing, but a sheer joy to listen to from cover to cover, shuffled in any order.
Somewhere amongst each song, Worth definitely has a sound for everyone and Nigel has mastered each tone of his beautifully, whether it be the infectious groove of ‘Worth My Bones’ paired with its highly-intense chorus and instrumental drops, or the conversely sparse ‘The Body Beautiful’ which places far more of a stress on minimalist sound and intimate lyricism where we really get to delve into Nigel’s experiences, the sound almost always lands well.
There are certainly still times where Nigel does live up to his gloomy name and whilst the record does dominantly dance around the ideas of unfeigned optimism and future aspirations, tracks such as ‘Einmal Ist Keinmal’ (meaning “Once doesn’t count”) definitely hold a sense of darkened inherent struggle which showcases another side to Nigel’s diverse sound wrapped in a pulsing melodic piano.
For myself, the ultimate stand-out of the record is in fact its finale. ‘Wounded Lion’ may be an intimidating nine minutes long, but it brings together almost every style which has been showcased before in an overall package, which you come away from feeling reinvigorated and inspired. Sombre and minimal beginnings soon delve into a fully fledged sound which cascades into nothing but powerful noise and passion, the piercing guitar solo shreds through the track with immense ferocity and leaves the impression that this track could easily be expanded into an album in itself which is admirable if nothing else.
Perhaps some may feel there are times where the wide diversity forces Worth to lose any real sense of focus. However, I would argue that this is instead one of The Sad Song Co.’s greatest traits. Too many artists nowadays are pigeon-holed, reserving themselves to one genre, whether it be for marketability or general preferred style, but Nigel is continuing to prove that this need not be the case and that wide experimentalism certainly has a warmly welcomed place between genres. I have come out of this album with a whole new outlook on what it means to be an artist in today’s world. Nigel is proof of a rising musician who is well on his way to finding his feet and The Sad Song Co. are definitely a name who deserve all the praise they come into.