Album Review: Jeffrey Philip Nelson - “Could This Be…”
Review by Ira Henderson
Jeffrey Philip Nelson’s indie acoustic pop-folk-country album “Could This Be…”, released in April, 2010, has a very warm sound. Nelson uses layered stereo vocals and guitar with thick reverb to create relaxed bouncing weaving rhythms, anchored by a steady-handed base. Percussion is not a priority. When it comes in, it is mostly incidental. Instead, the easy beat is kept up by the plucking and strumming of strings. All this adds up to a lush and smooth, unobtrusive sound.
The lyrics are all pretty straight-forward and wholesome. Nelson sings about homes and hearts, the evils of drugs and divorce, parents’ love and god’s guidance. All this sung with a slight southern twang and a deep earnestness. This is good old-fashioned middle-American music, all white picket fences and apple pies and god’s love and such. The quirky delivery of some of the lines makes for a few fun rhythms and some funny grammar. There are some slightly awkward turns of phrase, but not so many as to be distracting.
The whole thing settles quickly into a nice groove and stays there. The whole album has the same rich, weaving sound, the same slow bouncing rhythm and relaxed pace. It all has the same sugary-sweet, sincere, non-threatening wholesomeness. It’s enough to lull a person to sleep.
From the second album, “Badder Times”, I have been given a little sugary taste in the form of the single “Sweet Kelli”. Nelson experiments with more percussion on this track. He uses looped unconventional noises, some of which sound like they were recorded with a laptop’s built-in mic by tapping and scratching on the keyboard. It seems like the desired effect was something like the quirky clunk of Pink Floyd’s “Money”, but it doesn’t quite make it. It almost sounds like Nelson accidentally recorded himself tapping along to the track and decided to keep the mistake in the mix. Other than that, the song sounds very similar to everything on “Could This Be…”. Not having heard anything else from the second album, I guess I have to put the percussive awkwardness down to the growing pains of an artist struggling to evolve.
So, if you like lush, smooth guitar-driven rhythms and wholesomeness, and don’t mind too much white bread, check out Jeffrey Philip Nelson at http://www.jeffreyphilipnelson.com
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