[24 July 2008]
British singer Joel Nicholson is Butcher the Bar, a performer whose earnest delivery and heart-on-his-sleeve manner makes the comparisons to the late Elliott Smith instant and often. Whether it’s the light, roots-tainted “Getaway” that is content to stay in the same gear or the Springsteen-meets-Dylan troubadour “Sex Szene”, Nicholson rarely sounds out of his element. Fans of Nick Drake and also Paul Simon would definitely enjoy the swaying melody oozing from “Gumble” which is has more folk tendencies or leanings than the opening tunes. Later on he hones this style with a true gem entitled “Opening Night”. Butcher the Bar also nails the gorgeous “House/Home” perfectly, something that the late Smith would be envious of without question. However, some might be put off by how repetitive the style becomes, with Nicholson’s hushed vocals often fighting for space with his strumming and picking. The solo work of Tom Petty also comes to the surface during “Bike” as Nicholson weaves more magic here and on the ensuing lullaby “Leave This Town”. If you’re a fan of this style you should revel in it, especially the inviting, warm and soothing “Ball Point Skin Notes”.