archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003/4 ….
MADE TO LOVE MAGIC
Those doubting the merits or unfamiliar with the work of Nick Drake would be best checking out ‘Magic’, for sheer touching simplicity you’d be hard pushed to hear anything as chillingly elegant or for that matter sophisticated as far as listening experiences go. It perhaps succinctly portrays the eternal grace that lingers of a touching legacy left in the wake of his untimely death.
Thirty years on Drake is regarded as one of the jewels of the English folk scene crown and rightly so, an inspired musician who across three albums enchanted a record buying public too slow to grasp his spectral charm, often cited as morose and melancholic, Drake has by and large been misunderstood by the many to impatient to sit and bask in the softening textures he so ably constructed, his music is warm, comforting and intoxicating; free and wild; captivating and most special of all, intimate, none more so than on the aforementioned cut, ‘Magic’.
‘Made to love magic’ collects 13 cuts from the Drake canon bringing together the original production / arrangement team of John Wood and Robert Kirkby, essentially a re-treatment of a selection of Drake’s scores attempting to re-evaluate a cleaner and more closer to the source appreciation, featuring two rare cuts from an impromptu bedroom recording session from 1968, the immensely naked sounding ‘River Man’ and the cheerfully up-tempo ‘Mayfair’ and several alternate takes taken from the last recording sessions.
To listen to Drake is to be taken to a place of purity, maybe sanctuary, far from the madden crowd and the hustle and bustle of life’s pressures, there’s a spiritual serenity that invades his muse that’s welcoming, blossoming with each repeated listen, the nimbly choreographed rustic chords playing out their beguiling spell while the rich vocals curtly charms. ‘Made to love magic’ keeps faithful to the balance, ‘No time of reply’ is restored to its full glory augmented deliciously by the gentle sweeps of string arrangements which culminate into a magical swirl of colourful spring like hue while ‘Magic’ is dutifully prepped by flutes. However ‘Thoughts of Mary Jane’ towers above the assembled crowd, mature, magnificent and lost in its own frailty. Wrapping up the set with the last ever cut committed to tape by Drake, ‘Tow the line’ belies the return of the muse after a period of relative despondency, four months later that rekindled sense of hope would cease to flicker and all that would be left would be three short but nevertheless, lasting full lengths. Thoroughly recommended.