Nik Freitas - Dark & Day

by Nathan Fidler Rating:5 Release Date:2018-06-29
Nik Freitas - Dark & Day
Nik Freitas - Dark & Day

Nick Freitas must have thought he was on to a winner when he became part of the Mystic Valley Band, accompanying Conor Oberst around and even getting to sing a couple of songs on their second album. He’d already had a few albums under his belt by that point, and he returns with Dark & Day, his tenth album.

With a voice so inoffensive as his, Freitas can easily lose your attention as he ambles along. By the time you get to the album’s mid-point, you might have switched off mentally. This isn’t to say the songs are bad - they’re certainly soothing - but this probably isn’t what his aim was in writing them.

Often going to grandiose sounds before a song earns it (see ‘Rita Starpattern’), it’s hard to establish whether we’re hearing a singer-songwriter strain beyond his talents or a multi-instrumentalist playing it safe. Either way, he’s at his best when shuffling chords around, such as the off-kilter progression on ‘Break In Half’ - a track which Freitas tries to go a pop/R'n'B route for without ever owning it, the falsetto half-hearted and seemingly out of his strongest range.

This is an album which touches on the current climate of America. ‘What A Mess’ is a dig at the president’s job so far, “the leader of the free world types on his telephone”. And while that’ll pique your interest, he fails to go for the jugular thematically. Musically, a hymnal, backing helps to elevate the track, giving hope that a new day will break on what must be a depressing political situation.

‘Run Away’ is possibly the best track, combining his penchant for a driving chord and a warm melody, all with a modern country kickback once the drums enter. At times, Freitas’ drawl might remind of Calexico, particularly on the subdued ‘Star Gazing (Diamond Song)’, which is a better comparison for him than The Beatles or Elliott Smith.

While musically, he has a knack for putting the music of a song together, he lacks the magnetic poetry which his friend Conor Oberst does. This makes most songs feel undermined by the vocals and lyrics, and ultimately creates an album you’re unfussed about revisiting.

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