By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Album Review: Nigel Thomas’ Well Well-Release date September 13, 2019 via KEO Records
Nigel Thomas’ debut solo album Travelling Man was a mainstay in the car CD player since its debut in 2016; so, I was especially intrigued and anticipating Thomas’ new CD Well Well. Whereas Travelling Man was especially sweet and poignant Brit Pop, Well Well, is in one word—rocking! Although Thomas has not abandoned sweet melodies and catchy choruses, the album has an edgier feel with more blues and alt-rock influences as well as a patina of nostalgia and show tunes. One might wonder how an eclectic array of music works, but it is very English, reminiscent of concept albums like Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, the Kinks’ “Lola Versus Powerman, and The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club albums.
Beneath the layer of the music, which is both uplifting and pleasing to the ear, lies the lyrics, which take on political undertones and criticism of today’s self-absorbed “millennial” world. But like most of Thomas’ works, the meaning of each song lies in the listener’s personal interpretation, as each stirs emotion and deeper thought.
At first listen to “Rita”, one hears the slow melodic twinkling of piano keys before, Bam! Like a ton of bricks, electric guitars, drum rolls, and a screaming harmonica explode like a grenade, as Thomas sings a rolling Delta blues number. One can picture Jake and Elwood doing cartwheels in the aisle of a Chicago church! The album certainly hit the ground running!
The next song “Stepping Up” sounds like a 90s ska song, definitely influenced by Madness, in its whimsy and a hint of vaudeville. Love it!
“I’ve Seen Forever” with its acoustic guitar and Sheeran-esque rapid fire lyrics, delivers a sweet melody and a message to all those who have lost love. Thomas gives advice to a friend saying, “ It won’t be forever, lady you know that I know, I’ve seen forever and those tears now will go.”
Two really rockin’, hard-hitting songs are “Your Fire” with its psychedelic wah-wah pedal and harmonies, and “Alchemy Rose”, which has an 80s rock feel, as Thomas criticizes those that believe everything they see in the media… “I know she won’t listen and it drives me crazy, And of anything she goes along, she goes, she goes.”
“Well Well” is a really pretty, Beatlesque or Paul Weller-ish song, that takes me back to his Travelling Man sound. Classic song-writing. Staying in the Beatles mode, I can picture in my head John Lennon singing the political-tinged “I’ve Been Thinking”, which beckons, “Don’t lie to me.” In today’s political climate, the song is both fitting and appropriate. Thomas then exhorts to the masses to “Settle Down”, a darker ballad with yet another important message.
The last song on the album, “Smiling and Laughing”, is a tune originally written for a short film starring Ewan Mcintosh. It is very nostalgic with its raggy, vaudevillian, Formby-esque banjolele, charm, and wit. I absolutely adore it and am glad he included it in the album.
Nigel Thomas’ Well Well, shows increasing depth as an arranger and songwriter who is not afraid to experiment and gutsy enough to write “real songs” in today’s era of radio fluff. The sound engineering of the album is masterful. All around, I hold this CD in high regard as it will continue to be played in my CD rotation for.a long time to come.
‘Well Well‘, will be released via download, heavy weight vinyl, and CD. Recorded at Hightown Studios, Southampton by Tali Trow and mixed and mastered by Sam Williams.
The cover features original artwork painted especially for the album by Eddie Argos of the band Art Brut.
Track Listing: 1 – Rita 2 – Stepping Up 3 – I’ve Seen Forever 4 – Your Fire 5 – Well Well 6 – Alchemy Rose 7 – I’ve Been Thinking 8 – Spinning (Flat Earth Theory) 9 – Settle Down 10 – Smiling and Laughing