1. Song One
2. Queen Of New York
3. Apple Tree Girl
4. Hot Star
6. Something Else
8. Just You
9. Strawberry Selfish
I must admit that after the first few listens of 'Nightstand', I was thinking that this review would be about sugar coated Indie Pop with a 3 star rating. However this is a grower and you need to take time to sit down and listen to it, to realise that it is better than that. In the car this becomes a background album, but a really good listen opens your eyes, or should that be ears to its quality. It might be due to Jess Abbots effortless vocal style. Jess Abbott, formerly of Now, Now, has released this, her second album, under the Tancred moniker after her breakthrough release in 2016. The optimistic melodies on ‘Nightstand’ serves to sugar-coat Abbott’s often sombre lyrics about the experience of being a woman and being queer in today’s society. But even she is quick to emphasize that there is still comfort to be found during times of isolation or alienation: “Ultimately, we are all feeling these things together, and that can be enough to feel less alone. There’s a hopefulness in the loneliness.”
'Nightstand' is a fairly short album with a running time of just 34 minutes and opens with a very short dreamy interlude, 'Song One', a gentle introduction with piano and strings. A melancholy song about unrequited love. 'Queen Of New York' is a great, probably one of the best on the album. Opening with a catchy guitar riff, it is reminiscent of the Indie Pop of the early noughties. It is a very familiar sound with fast tempo bass notes and a catchy guitar driven chorus. 'Apple Tree Girl' again is different, an acoustic guitar is the main focus on this track. Simple chords and slide strings compliment Jess' understated vocals. The progressions in the song are effortless as it builds in tempo. 'Hot Star' is a bouncy upbeat track with a great line 'The card reader says you're going to marry me'.
Strategically placed slap bang in the middle of the album are three of the strongest tracks. The first of the trio is 'Clipping', which starts with a percussion, and a dreamy slow guitar riff. The song flows with a slow tempo, Jess does not even sound as if she is trying when she delivers the vocal. The backing instrumentation is very Beatlesesque, or Britpop, whilst the vocal is similar very contemporary and introspective. The filling of the sandwich is 'Something Else' which is a true Indie Rock track. The catchy chorus is backed with a Nirvana style guitar riff. The drums are well used throughout the song. This is a really catchy track and similar in ways to 'Queen Of New York'. The last of the 3 back to back bangers is 'Underwear', which slows the pace and decreases the volume again. A slow mournful track, the pain in the lyrics is supported with pounding, plodding guitar, bass and drum beats.
'Just You' is another understated song, with heavy but simple bass lines. A simple stripped back, almost Bluesy, number that allows you to concentrate on Jess's vocal. 'Strawberry Selfish' is again a dreamy track. The instrumentation floats the vocals, in this very slow tempo number. 'Reviews' focuses on the clever lyrics and again Jess' vocal delivery is the primary focus of this track. It progresses into an Indie Pop track with a catchy chorus. The album finishes with 'Rowing' a gentle, sad song, not dissimilar to a Radiohead track in the way that it rises and falls.
So what on the face of it is a standard slab of angst ridden Indie Pop is far more than that. Jess's vocals shine through this album and the running order seems very deliberate. Jess's vocal technique is similar to Thom Yorke and as such there are shades of Radiohead in some of the tracks if you listen hard enough.
This album gets better with every play, and needs to be listened to properly to appreciate its worth, and it is well worth listening to it. The vocals are controlled and in places sublime, and the instrumentation and tempo compliment each track perfectly.
Website - www.tancredmusic.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tancredmusic/
Review - Tony Creek