Nick Howell is an artist from Barrie, Ontario who released an album entitled Traveller. It’s a long album with twelve songs and one song going over the nine-minute mark.
Howell plays a blend of different styles. The White Stripes came to mind at first but there were some interesting deviations as well that left me wondering what else would be around the corner. Musically, I was really attracted to what was going on within most of these songs. This is an album that begs for a certain brand of recording quality. Unfortunately that is the area this album doesn't excel in. The production and recording quality varies from song to song. Most of the issues with recording quality come from the low-end. It simply isn’t defined and muddies up the mid and high frequencies.
The album opens with “She's Trouble” which sounds most aligned with The White Stripes. It has a bluesy/rock swag and the type of song you would want to see live. After this song Howell goes into other areas some of which I wasn’t expecting. “Rabbit in the Cloverfield” has a distinct Eastern feel which feels mystical. The lyrics fit the mold of the song. He sings, “There's a rabbit waiting out in the cloverfield / a ring around the moon and a pocket full of gold.”
The centerpiece of the album is the title track as he mixes a Led Zeppelin-esque chorus with a mystical sounding Eastern vibe. “Swift Turtle” was one of my favorite tracks. The song rocks and had a ’70s classic rock feel. “Look At The Stars” is another track with a distinct feel. This time around he rides a contemplative singer/songwriter vibe. My personal favorite song was “The Angry Moon.” For whatever reason the recording quality was better with the bass having some definition. I also really enjoyed the female accompaniment.
Howell has some serious talent but the two things he needs to focus on are production quality and trying to find a particular style which can get him to the next level. He jumps around the map and I think it behooves him to combine some of these disparate influences and find a sound that can define him.
There is no denying Howell is ambitious and prolific. Traveller is a solid effort but I think his best work is yet to come.
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