The artist known as Nudie is a bit of a mystery. His bio admits to an Ontario birth, residencies in Quebec, Arizona, Texas and New York, and settlement on Prince Edward Island, off the east coast of New Brunswick. He developed a following busking, playing clubs and touring with his band the Turks (completing his homage to country music’s famed haberdashers, Nudie Cohn and Nathan Turk), but after a pair of albums, he’s moved on to a solo career. Nudie’s debut shows many of the same country influences as his earlier work (and includes vocal and instrumental work from two of his three former bandmates), but the arrangements stretch a bit further. Gone is Gordie MacKeeman’s fiddle and mandolin, but added are organ, piano and percussion; also added is a more relaxed vocal style that grabs your attention with understated confidence rather than stage-ready showmanship.
None of which is meant to suggest that Nudie’s twelve new originals wouldn’t play well on stage, but that many will have you listening intently before singing along. Then again, the upbeat Bakersfield-styled “Why Do We Keep Hanging On?” will grab you right away, as will the Neil Diamond-cool of “My Sweet Ache. There’s steel guitar and tic-tac guitar on “You Try to Be Right” and the yodel that opens “Fiona” signals Hank Williams-styled woe ahead. Nudie writes in the many shades of anguish that anticipate and result from broken hearts. He’s on the lookout for cracks in his relationships and laments those that have already failed. Even in the depths of his misery, Nudie brings the wry storytelling of Tom T. Hall to several songs, including “Pawn Shop” and “I’m Tired of Living with No Fun.” Think of this as buenas noches from an unlikely place. [Â©2014 Hyperbolium]Â [Â©2014 Hyperbolium]