by Justin (@justasstrazdin)
Label: Squirrel Thing / Alimentation - March 5, 2013
(Sorry nerds, no vinyl, but both CD's come with liner notes and poetry book.)
Style: Painted Portrait Where the Eyes Move, Haunted Home Studio, Ouija Board Lyrics Generator
Audience: Milk Bath with Opium & Honey Crowd, Gents Who Relax with Lipstick, Nostalgic Grandmothers, Ghost Hunters with an M.A. in Literature
I doubt anyone approaches this collection without acknowledging that Molly Drake birthed Nick Drake, and in turn got him into music. She kept a reel-to-reel recorder in the home, and Nick used it for some home recordings released in the 2007 collection Family Tree. Molly died in 1993, but two of her songs made that album because her daughter, Gabrielle, cashed in with grace and style to reveal more about Nick and Molly's lives and music. In 2013, nineteen of Molly's private songs (including the two on Family Tree) were quietly released to show that Nick's craft ran in the family.
The album opens with the sad words, "Happiness is like a bird with twenty wings / Try to catch him as he flies." Look at the album cover for a moment. A regular portrait, for an album of regular music, yet there's a haunting and fragile quality to her lyrics, led by a husky, yet quivering voice. Her son's early death may have a lot to do with my lyrical interpretation, as it is tempting to analyze a musical family's individual works on the basis of the lives and misfortunes. Their voices share tonal similarities and their writing often feels dark.
But she made room for subtle humor. On "I Remember," in the first three verses, she contrasts the memories between her and someone she loves, each verse written similar to "I remember willow trees / And you remember gnats." But the following verse blurs the line between humor and melancholy, by changing the line to "I remember oranges / And you remember dust."
This album is a great examination into the strong possibility that one of Nick Drake's great influences was his mother and her music, whether he wanted to admit it or not. Gabrielle noted in an interview with The Guardian that Nick thought her songs were naive—but he was a brooding whippersnapper until the end. The influence is a beautiful notion, and we don't know what he would have revealed in interviews had he lived, but in the past six years we have fresh perspectives on two interesting people.
Verdict: Sheds Light on a Musical Family and the Iconic Son and Songwriter They Lost
Molly Drake - Cuckoo Time