Album Review: The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake // Various Artists

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The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake made its rounds on 7 July 2023. The album, featuring notable artists such as Fontaines D.C., Bombay Bicycle Club, Let’s Eat Grandma, and Liz Phair, among many others, shows the enduring musical legacy left by Nick Drake.

A good compilation can be hard to achieve as it can come off disjointed, due to the variety of artists and styles. This contemplative album goes against the grain in this sense, as it offered creative reimaginations of Nick Drake’s songs from artists from different genres, all unified by the artist’s poignant lyricism.

The album features 23 tracks, which is a sufficient amount to give insight into his catalogue of 66 songs, only 31 of which were officially released. Aside from its trivial purpose as a tribute album, in a more sentimental fashion, it is telling of the difference a man and his guitar can make.

The album opens on a high with Fontaines D.C.’s rendition of ‘Cello Song, assuring listeners that they are in for a treat. This track gives off the impression that none of the artists held back their creative liberties in approaching Drake’s music. The songs are faithful to the originals, maintaining the spirit Drake breathed into them, yet exhibit diversion in a substantial, yet tasteful manner through the musical phrases.

French pop icon Camille mirrors Nick Drake’s soft-spoken voice in Hazey Jane II, further adding a whimsical touch through the instrumentation and the delicate singing. Opening vocal harmonies are accompanied by what seems like a cello, its phrasing similar to that of her French pop hits. While an unusual touch, it lends itself well to the ambience of the song.

Other songs such as Road exhibits Drake’s signature plucking, with its repetitive lyrics entrancing listeners. Another notable characteristic of this album is the collaboration between various artists. Bombay Bicycle and The Staves combined the strengths of their original music, namely, playfulness and charming allure. The choice of these songs is also a good way of making Drake’s lesser-known songs more appreciated. Be it for casual listening or seasoned fans, there is something for everyone in this compilation.

Aurora took on the challenging task of covering Pink Moon, which is the track that broke Drake through to mainstream listening. The careful layering of intricate sounds adds a grandiose touch, along with vocal harmonies that seem to exude a feeling of resignation. This is a jump from the original, made just of an acoustic guitar and a piano. Fly is the only track that stands out in that it is the only one that has minimal embellishment. Philip Selway allowed the lyrics to shine with his clean, crisp vocals and eerie instrumentals

Elements of contemporary genres such as hyperpop, shoegaze, synthpop, and post-punk are evident. The fact that these genres are incorporated seems to honour Drake as it shows that his music transcends style. Besides the music, the lyrics reach wide, compelling listeners to reach right back out and feel its deep emotional pull.

The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake highlights the range of artists that Drake has influenced. Although his success as an artist was realised posthumously, this touching tribute reminds fans that truly, better late than never.

Words by Marinel Dizon


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