This week Nev Clay uploaded and published his excellent album ‘Pearshaped’ to his Bandcamp site thus making it available to the wider world. Facebook and Twitter went nuts. Just about all of the local musicians, music lovers & music journalists I know, and a few I don’t, instantly began to publish it to their news feeds, their band accounts and blogs. No surprise, judging by the high level of respect rightfully given to Nev from his contemporaries & listeners.
I’ve known Nev now for just over a year, I wouldn’t be so presumptive to call myself his contemporary; he is in a different league, but being a North East based Singer-Songwriter myself, Nev’s music was like my apprenticeship. I’ve been listening to Nev’s songs and enjoying them immensely now for a number of years, it sounds cliché but every one of his songs gets better with each listen.
‘Pearshaped’ is a collection of songs written and recorded in 2001 at Cluny Studios in Newcastle. Amongst others it features a host of local luminaries including Richard Dawson & Phil Tyler and I am lucky enough to have in my possession a copy personalised by Nev himself. The copy includes not only the eleven original album tracks but also five bonus tracks added by the man himself, two featuring his Mercury Nominated friend Kathryn Williams; therefore it is one of my few prized possessions.
Like all good music I heard about Nev’s songs via word of mouth. Local bands I admired were into his music, as were friends of friends. I’ve been lucky enough to put Nev on at gigs I run in my hometown, get his permission to cover his song ‘Leaving Do’ (download here, One my many favourite songs of his), and even share the stage with him.
A talented guitarist as well as songwriter, Nev’s intelligent, perceptive and often sarcastic lyric are all accompanied by intricate finger picked guitar. He’s not only an accomplished musician but a captivating performer also, although he would be the first to deny this. His humility, personable persona and often hilarious stage banter has his audiences switching from silent reverence to roaring laughter between (and sometimes during) each song.
‘Pearshaped’ is a must have for any lover of highly affecting and timeless acoustic music. I’m not going to describe the songs on the album like some sort of Frog dissection; that would be giving the game away. All I’ll say is that there is a concrete reason why Nev’s songs are universally lauded as being ‘Modern Folk Genius’. Everyone loves him, including me, and purchasing ‘Pearshaped’ will be the best £4 you’ve ever spent. As Nev would say himself: ‘Respect’.