Reviews Zone

Nigel Stonier: Love & Work (Shameless Records) 28th April 2017



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



“A striking new album from one of our very best.” So reads the PR blurb sent with this advance copy. Well, it would say that, wouldn’t it? Often there are OTT claims accompanying music I have been sent for nigh on 40 years now.

But one has to wade through the puff and fluff, and the marketing slogans and get to the nitty gritty to find out; is this music any good? Is this band or artist good at what they do? Should I be telling people about this stuff?

In the case of Nigel Stonier’s sixth solo album, I have to admit; he IS one of our very best. I also have to concede and say this IS a striking album. His voice is distinctive, very English, one which I warmed to as the album progressed. Reminding me of the likes of Glenn Tilbrook, not a bad thing at all. His relaxed, cheery vocal style is a  hand in glove fit for this material, and that material is not a million miles away from the quirky classics put out by Mr Tilbrook and his partner Mr. Difford and their famous band.

As a songwriter, a singer, a musician and a producer he’s worked with the best of ‘em. Some of those celebrated cats are guests on this here record.  Robbie McIntosh (Paul McCartney, The Pretenders) and Chris Hillman (Billy Bragg) on electric/slide guitars, James Hallawell (Graham Parker, The Waterboys) on Hammond organ, Thea Gilmore on backing vocals – Nigel has produced all of Thea’s albums and is her “other half”.

He recorded his new album in Manchester because he wanted to work with Seadna McPhail, engineer/producer who’s recorded the likes of Badly Drawn Boy and I Am Kloot. Nigel gives Seadna power of artistic veto on the recording of this album, as co-producer. Why? “It’s impossible to be the artist and have that detached overview you need from a producer.” Boy, do I wish more artists grasped that fact!

Nigel has worked with Robert Plant, Martha Wainwright, Fairport Convention, Gretchen Peters, Mike Scott and the Waterboys and Clare Teal among many others, in his various artistic roles. But here and now, this is all about the solo artist Nigel Stonier. The singer, the songwriter. The artist in his own right.

The 10 Stonier-penned songs hold the attention from the off, with the jangly guitar and infectious opener “Ready To Begin”, a Squeeze or Al Stewart vibe, right through to the final cut, “The Extra Song” – where his two young children join in on fiddle, percussion and vocals and their Mum Thea plays whistle. She sings backing vocals on six cuts on the record.

There’s George Harrison flavours across this mainly cheerful record too, especially on the fabulous slide guitar-soaked “You Breathe New Life In Me”. “Frost Flowers” takes us to gentle Greg Lake territory.  

“Love & Work”, is the follow-up to “Built For Storms” released three years ago. The latest record’s title is from the quote “Give me love and work, these two only”, by polymath/artist William Morris. The first single is a superb choice; the really, really lovely “You Need Love”. Nigel wrote most of the lyrics to the song on a train to Cambridge. He’d had a conversation with a friend the day before, which was nagging at him on that journey, as that chat had left him feeling sad, but he had no idea why! (Wonder if it was his accountant?)

Nigel Stonier is on the road for a few shows soon, including June 14th: The Green Note, London and July 1st, The Stables, Milton Keynes.       



By Simon Redley



1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’





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