Nik Barrell’s new EP ‘Growing Peaches in Oxfordshire’ is a joyful affair.
Whereas most singer-songwriters tend to put their head down and head for the hills of despondency, Nik Barrell has taken the opposite approach and written five songs full of positivity and happiness. In the hands of a less skillful songwriter they could become cloying but it’s a tribute to Nik’s skills that these songs are not that.
The opener ‘Growing Peaches in Oxfordshire’ has a sunny laid back feeling, like some of the best jazz-inspired Louisiana songs, and was perhaps influenced by the fact the songs were written while Nik was on the road in America. Another song, the bright and breezy ‘New Orleans’, makes clear Nik’s tribute to the classic American songsmiths. ‘It’s Your Choice’ is a song about fixing the problems of the world, asking the listener to ‘be the change you want to be… be the one who understands… and do it right’ all over a foot-tapping gypsy-esque rhythm.
Our favourite song is the last one on the EP ‘People Are Good’ which is a refreshing contrast to the negativity that it’s easy to subscribe to if you watch too much of the news (“you’ll get the idea, that there are no good people round here” as the song says). But Nik sings that he’s travelled the world and found that people are fundamentally good. It’s a lovely feeling, and a refreshing one in this cynical age. You can hear the song at the top of this review.
Nik has a beautiful warm and romantic voice, which makes for repeated listening. He is ably supported on the EP by James Fiddes Smith whose excellent backing vocals add additional warmth and whose mandolin gives extra depth to the accompaniment. There’s also Tim Cotterell’s violin and Mark Strain’s bass, which contribute to the richness of Nik’s gentle guitar playing.
Support Nik Barrell in making more music and purchase the CD here
(Photograph of Nik Barrell by Mike Rowbottom)