Nels Andrews – Pigeon and the Crow

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson

For Nels Andrews’ fourth album, Pigeon and the Crow, the Santa Cruz-based singer songwriter addresses some of his inherent midlife issues in ten excellent songs, each peppered with stylish accompaniment, not least the Irish flavoured flute courtesy of producer Nuala Kennedy and the highly individual voice of Anaïs Mitchell, a voice that embellishes rather than dominates.  Shane Cook’s weeping violin on the album opener “Scrimshaw” adds a melancholy feel that seems to hover through some of the more sensitive songs on the album.

The evocative “Memory Compass” introduces us to Kennedy’s haunting whistle, which gives the song its Celtic feel, echoed once again in the album’s title song “Pigeon and Crow”, co-written with AJ Roach and probably the finest song on the album.  Steel Drums make an appearance on “South of San Gregorio”, courtesy of Chris Wabuch, bringing a sunny calypso feel midway through, complete with well-placed ‘sha-la-las’.  “Table by the Kitchen” provides Anaïs with the opportunity to almost duet with Nels, rather than just back him up; if Anaïs Mitchell’s voice is in the house, then it would be wise to use it.

Choice Track: Scrimshaw (NSV 500)