One Nil CD
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The 12 tracks on One Nil proffer a more organic, rougher-hewn take on Neil Finn's solid classicism. While Crowded House's populist folk-pop tugged as many purse-strings as it did hearts, Finn's solo career has been characterised by nothing more strident than the soft shuffle of gentle understatement--as if the Antipodean troubadour feared his former muse would be insulted by any attempts to out-pop the relentlessly tuneful House. Not that this follow-up to 1998's patchy solo debut Try Whistling This is in any way under-whelming. The swirling effects and treated guitars of "Rest of the Day" hint more at latter-day Split Enz and even, occasionally, Oasis than Crowded House. Unfortunately, there is also a sense that the addition of such sonic accoutrements may be little more than a ham-fisted attempt to add techno-savvy flesh to basic, traditional bones--with "Hole in the Ice" and "Secret God" imbued with dubious guitar solos and irritatingly superfluous backing vocals (courtesy, bizarrely enough, of former Prince demoiselles Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman) that merely serve to detract from the music's warm-hearted core. Nevertheless, Finn's long-runnning lyrical concerns--love, loyalty and, predominantly, self-doubt--have never been expressed more adroitly. "Into the Sunset", for example, is a sweet love letter to his wife, while "Last to Know" manages to deliver a jaunty treatise on mortality ("I'll end up under a bus/With my fingers crossed"). Although Finn still appears reluctant to rock out with strong tunes, One Nil is neverthless bursting with charm and gentle melody, suggesting the "real" Neil Finn is finally finding his feet. --Sarah Dempster
Top customer reviews
The song writing is strong, the vocals excellent and the overall feel is just fabulous.
This has to be one of my favourite Neil Finn albums - it's a gem.
But that's always been Neil's trademark. For every "Message for my girl," there has been a "Bullet Brain and Plastic Head." For every "Take a Walk," there's been a "Log Cabin Fever." For every "Distant Sun," there's been a "Black and White Boy." And gee, there isn't a single song on "Temple of Low Men" one couldn't call dark.
What is a plus here are all the layers of distorted violins, harmoniums, beat boxes, and various other unconventionalities that give the record and otherwordly feel.
Mr. Finn should be proud.
That said, One Nil (the terrible title aside!) is a huge improvement on Try Whistling This. That album sounded a little too much like it was trying not to be Crowded House. The result was a patchy and slightly soulless record. One Nil has a greater consistency both in terms of it's feel and the quality of material. Given that Neil Finn would have to try quite hard to write a rubbish song, the key to this improvement is not so much the songs as the performance. Here the contributions of Wendy and Lisa cannot be underestimated. They seem to add a level of melody and punch - and Neil Finn certainly needs a bit of the latter at times. What Neil Finn needs is a foil to add a bit of edge because without it he tends to sound a bit sweet. Wendy and Lisa do this job with some aplomb.
In short this is a very very good record which has been resident on my CD player for almost a week now. It lacks that bit of energy or punch or whatever you want to call it, but it is still arguably the best thing he has ever done. If the next album (and let's hope it roles around a bit quicker than this one) can capture a bit more of that edginess lacking on this, and every other Neil Finn/Crowded House record come to think of it, then Neil Finn may have finally recorded a classic of our times. Get Tom Waits in to produce it perhaps.
Neil's new album 'One - Nil' is both a continuation of the experimentation of Try Whistling This and a harking back to the values and approaches of Crowded House.
Produced by Tchad Blake, a range of top notch musicians appear on the CD including Sheryl Crow, Wendy & Lisa, Jim Moginie and Jim Keltner. Despite Neil's recent stints at Largo there is no sign of any musical input from Jon Brion. Hope that particular musical union could be consummated someday. (Check out JB's 'Meaningless')
1 The Climber
A droning intro leads into an almost REM/Neil Young type song that soon hints at Neil's CH heritage prompting '..a smile between us.'. PS Has the e-bow become today's didgeridoo I ask myself?
2 Rest Of The Day Off
Mid tempo song that could have easily fitted onto 'Finn'. Atmospheric guitars with a bit of CH freaking out at one stage. Other phases of the track include a Bowie 'Ashes to ashes' interlude. A real grower ......
3 Hole In The Ice
Coming straight out of 'Rest of the day off' this is a pretty pacy track about....well I'm not really sure. Lyrics include Neil singing about making fire, Eskimos giving him lines for his songs and therapy 'one on one'. Happenstance perchance? Son Liam makes an appearance on backing vocals.
4 Wherever You Are
Familiar from Largo and an excellent song. Unfortunately here the drum machine intro irritates (though I admit that all drum machines irritate me!). Still, the acoustic version from Largo may well have the edge. Sharon sings backing vocals with Mitchell Froom making one of his many contributions to the album on keyboards.
5 The Last To Know
A slow ballad with a nice production. Lisa contributes violin, adding to the atmosphere, with Sharon on backing vocals - a 'true companion at your side'.
6 Don't Ask Why
'I've never been to heaven but it feels alright.' sings Neil on this uptempo rocker not a million miles away from something Sheryl Crow might write. Ironically she does not appear on this track. Wendy displays her many talents by playing drums, bass and guitar - how many hands does she have? Likely to be a standout song when the tour starts.
7 Secret God
Bucking the trend, this to me sounds better than the Largo version. Maybe it 's the additional instruments giving more light and shade. Some menacing/malevolent guitar work and I'm sure Neil will be proud of the jazzy, Steely Dan-like ending. ;-)
8 Turn And Run
Just another great Neil Finn ballad. Sheryl Crow shares vocal duties. Some sort of flashback to childhood perhaps with images of Neil standing with his 'plastic gun'? But he's with us in 'body and music and mind'.
9 Elastic Heart
Hmmm. Odd tune, odd lyrics. Unlike anything else on the album, I wonder if it is a nod towards Wendy and Lisa's background. The 'Black and White Boy' of 'One-Nil'?
Seems sharper and more driving than the Largo version. With the wistful
lyrics ('I could go at anytime') this is unexpected. I can see Neil doing an acoustic solo spot in concert with this one.
11 Driving Me Mad
Almost country and western in feel. Sheryl Crow again shares vocals. 'But most of all it's music taking me, It's driving me mad, Still I can't refuse' .
12 Into The Sunset
Really nice album closer. Would not be out of place on Together Alone. Reversed guitars, Mitchell on celeste and Sheryl on accordion.
Overall this is a very satisfying album with enough Crowded House touches to please past fans whilst moving forward with new sounds and musical partners and adding a number of new classics to the Neil Finn canon.
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