Saturday, November 10, 2012

Neil Finn 2: One Nil

It’s always sad when an established artist can’t get his or her records distributed in America, but that’s what happened to Neil Finn’s One Nil, despite the presence in the studio of Sheryl Crow, as well as Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, who also co-wrote some of the songs. The album isn’t as experimental as Try Whistling This, but it’s still not enough for him to merely write the songs; he’s just as concerned with making records, so production peppers the aural landscape.
“The Climber” is a cheerful little number seemingly sung from the point of view of a man stranded in an avalanche, going seamlessly via drum machine into the much more homey “Rest Of The Day Off”. “Hole In The Ice” starts out abrasively, but has another wonderful Neil Finn chorus to redeem it. “Wherever You Are” also appears to be built up from a home demo, and it rolls along inoffensively. “Last To Know” is a nice little strum, but “Don’t Ask Why” is noisy and fairly obnoxious, sticking out of the middle.
The mild prayer “Secret God” is a step in the right direction, sounding more like a band, with those underwater guitars leading to a mysterious ending, but “Turn And Run” is a standout, with Sheryl Crow actually on pitch and suitably mixed. “Elastic Heart” is too muddy and irritating for these ears, redeemed by the superior mix of “Anytime”. With its accordion, “Driving Me Mad” could almost be a Crowded House tune, as could, for that matter, “Into The Sunset”, another chance for the song to exist without too much fuss.
As mentioned, One Nil wasn’t released in the U.S. for over a full year, and when it was, it sported a rejigged lineup and had been retitled One All. Songs were remixed, some gaining a few seconds and others shaved, while “Don’t Ask Why” and “Elastic Heart” were dropped to no great loss, and two new songs were inserted. “Lullaby Requiem” is lovely, though it’s at an odd place in the middle of the album, while “Human Kindness” is more clattery, which we’d blame on the influence of Mitchell Froom. The album still starts and ends with the same tracks, so the new sequence doesn’t enhance or detract from the listening experience; it takes time to grow, and least more people have a chance to hear it.

Neil Finn One Nil (2001)—3
Neil Finn
One All (2002)—3

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