Nigel Clothier writes lyrics you can both understand but identify with. His precisely crafted words reveal human emotions of love and life, yearning and desire overlaid with more than a touch of gentle cynicism. His album Face delivers those insightful lyrics through a medley of relaxed American folk tunes tinged with blues-influenced country rock. All the songs on Face are Clothier originals, with instruments and vocals by him too. Each song blessed with an insistent melody and an instantaneous hook that gets inside your head. The accuracy of Nigel’s lyrics is sharp enough to cut through the background noise in your head and immediately hit the remember me button. These are songs that sound so familiar you can’t believe they don’t live in your memory from some previous time. And there’s not an average song in this collection. They’re all excellent. You Come Here is direct enough to touch a familiar nerve. It’s the song you’re sure you’ve heard before and to add to the déja vu effect there’s more than a memory of an Orbison-style delivery. And damn good it is too. It’s followed by I’m Gone which, with a delicious fiddle accent, keeps the same flavour. It’s Alright skims along in a wave of jangling guitar, more perceptive lyrics with Nigel’s usual idiosyncratic metre and one-line rhymes - but it’s all the better for that. Born and Raised is a classic Americana story with the hallmark of a unforgettable song. If this doesn’t become the soundtrack to a landmark road movie there isn’t any justice. Bed of Rhythm thuds its lusty message through its mesmeric primal beat and haunting double-tracked voices. The gentle questioning of Half Full creates a striking song with the occasional unexpected rhyme that takes away any certainty of what to expect from the lyrics. I can hear this playing at the end of many parties. Then of course there’s the picturesque narration of Harvest Dance changing the mood back to lively expectation - another classic in the making. Ashton-in-Makerfield in the North-West of England may not be the first place to look for pure-blood Americana but think again, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better.
This is gentle, simplistic, unfussy and uncluttered with a less is more approach to the instrumentation and some delightfully poetic lyrics.
Steve Ward, Classic Rock Society
Here's an album that will creep up on you without you even realising it. Opener You Come Here is probably the rockiest tune of the album with a great country tinged feel to it and bouncy acoustic guitars ringing throughout and a slide guitar harmony in the background. Violins punctuate the upbeat I'm Gone and whilst it might be a bittersweet song, its upbeat nature keep the buoyant atmosphere of the album ringing through and there's something slightly Mark Knopler-ish (Dire Straits) about Clothier's voice there. There are some great acoustic guitar riffs througout the album too on tracks such as It's Alright, No Thanks (Clothier's Tears In Heaven) and closer Harvest Dance (which has a bit of that Classical Gas feel to it). Cheerleader has a real cool guitar riff as Clothier muses about football and girlfriends. The use of slide guitar is also very gentle and a highlight track is Eyes Grow Dim with a very country feel to it. Clothier knows how to write some bittersweet songs, about life and love and serenades you with this gentle musings. There's a great country tinge to his work and the acoustic guitars ring clearly and beautifully on a number of songs.
Justin, Entertainment Focus
There’s a distinct 1970s feel to much of it, somewhere between Gerry Rafferty and Fairport Convention, and this reaches its apogee with the final song, Harvest Dance, which is just crying out for the Conventioneers to record it.
His lyrics tend to be very much observational often dealing with the day to day aspects of life. This is song as a social record, the way it used to be. The trick is doing it in such a way people will want to listen to it. Clothier has definitely got that knack. "Face" is a word that can be interpreted in a lot of ways and so can the songs, they work on different levels, you can take them at surface level or dig deeper into them for a bit of extra meaning.
Neil King, Fatea
It’s Alright is a becalmed song of the sort that he does really well. He recalls someone like Jules Shear here, a craftsman of music rather than someone with a lot of flash and no substance. Cheerleader is a song with a funny lyric, speaking of love in sports metaphors. Words Weave a Spell is a sad song, though it’s lovely with it. He’s really good at songs like these. It’s a very nice album.
Anna Maria Starjnell, Collected Sounds