Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas showed he doesn’t need a band to belt out some tunes last year as he released his debut solo album, Yorktown Heights. Following on from its success, Nicholas has now released his second solo attempt, a six-track acoustic mini-album entitled Black Clouds.
The tone of Nicholas’ voice is no longer that of an alt-rock frontman rocking out to heavy riffs and mosh pits. In fact, it is almost unrecognisable to the untrained ear as the Feeder vocalist, but instead sounds more like a folk-come-pop artist. With the minimalist sound of this solo album and the occasional incorporation of electronic elements, Nicholas actually has a tone more similar to that of distinctive Take That vocalist Mark Owen – except, of course, more earthy and acoustic, less ‘90s boyband.
The stripped back moments of this album really shine, with the most exposed parts of ‘Better Days to Come’ and ‘Reminisce’ both having the sounds of the ‘60s coursing through them, with the former hinting towards an acoustic take on the Beatles, while the latter has a more folksy feel that would slot right into place with the hippie revolution. ‘Everyday Society’, however, jumps forward a few decades to the ‘90s, where there are some real indie roots definitely planted within the track; think ‘Britpop goes acoustic’. ‘After the Fall’ takes the gold medal, though, as far as the authentic, vulnerable feel of the album goes, with the simple approach showing its most beautiful side in this track.
While the splashes of synth dotted throughout Black Clouds makes one question just how ‘acoustic’ this album really is, they do add texture to a genre that can sometimes become a little one-dimensional. This album creates a really interesting, quaint balance between the two that keeps it fresh, yet genuine.