Having sampled Nick Drake's genius on "Way to Blue - An introduction to Nick Drake", I went out and bought all three of his main albums. They are all worthy of five stars, but while the stark "Pink Moon" perhaps has a couple of weak links and "Bryter Later" relies on some instrumental passages, I would say that "Five Leaves Left" stands as the ultimate monument to Nick Drake's brilliance.
It contains arguably his greatest songs, the lilting, yearning "River Man" and the harrowing, prophetic "Fruit Tree". There is playfulness too in "The Thoughts of Mary Jane" and "Man in a Shed" but all tinged with his trademark "wistfulness" Other classics are "Day is Done", "Saturday Sun" and the beautiful "Cello Song", which shows off his almost inimitable guitar technique. The whole album boasts an incredible range of interesting rhythms and melodies. If you liked Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" you'll certainly like this
Drake on this record was whimsical yet poignant, hopeful yet hurt. He sang in a whisper that spoke a whole encyclopaedia of volumes. He was one of this country's greatest songwriters and a great musician too. A lot of stuff I used to like now sounds clumsy after listening to this.
Phew! But that's enough. Don't take my word for it. Buy this - and the other two albums too.