‘Growing Peaches in Oxfordshire’ – Nik Barrell - acoustic refinement, reflective blues, touches of folk(May 22, 2017)
According to the intro-sheet, ‘Growing Peaches in Oxfordshire’ is Nik Barrell’s, “... brave attempt to return to the unashamed happiness that music can bring.” Off hand, I can think of several musicians that base their music around striving for happiness but that aside there’s certainly a feel-good essence to this album. Perhaps it comes through the exuberance that Nik Barrell pours into his music. Possibly, it’s the result of a definite sense of optimism. Whatever it is, and pleasure generating or not, ‘Growing Peaches in Oxfordshire’ is an album that engenders a certain elusive contentment. And it’s certainly worth taking time to listen.
The combination of acoustic refinement, reflective blues, touches of folk, even the odd overture of rock and roll, present songs that lie comfortably in their own skin. No over-embellishment and nothing superfluous, simply lean and slender songs delivered through a serenade-sliced vocal that slides gently over each tune. The high spots are ‘A Heart of Money Is A Heart Of Stone’, ‘Her And I’, ‘Thank You’, ‘New Orleans’ and of course the title track, ‘Growing Peaches in Oxfordshire’.
Featured on the album alongside Nik Barrell (guitar, vocals) James Fiddes Smith (mandolin, backing vocals) Mark Strains (bass) Tim Cotterell (violin) Alan Grice (piano) with Sharon Lewis, Anjuli Hararah and Vanessa Thomas (backing vocals).
Review: Tom Franks