on May 1, 2003
How can a mortal man such as me describe the absolute perfection found with-in the immaculate album Bryter Layter? This album could very well be the soundtrack to life its self. From the song "Introduction" which sets the stage for allowing the rest of Bryter Layter to fall perfectly into harmony with your soul. The song "Northern Sky" is so much more than just a song. I think it is what heaven will sound like. I hope to have that song played at my funeral someday. When I listen to this album I imagine as each song plays through that those songs are the steps we take to get through each day. It blows me away to think that Nick Drake was only 26 when he died and yet his music makes us feel as though he lived a full life time. I hope that wherever Nick is now he knows how much his music means to us. His music is a rare gift that we are so very lucky and blessed to be listening to. It's seems like having an eternal state of communion with God. Thank you Nick for giving us a little bit of heaven on earth. You were one of God's own angelic messenger's.
on June 12, 2003
I don't know how Pink Moon has a higher rating than this. Pink Moon is great, don't get me wrong, but this album is flawless from start to finish. Even the instrumentals are perfect. Drake's voice and lyrics were wonderful. It's a shame he decided to leave us so young, because I'm sure he would have given us many more years of beautiful music.
on November 23, 2003
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE "Five Leaves Left" and "Pink Moon"...as well as "Time of No Reply."
A lot of people dismiss this as overly orchestrated, saccharine, etc. I disagree. It's very flowing and resonant.
Introduction--seems to be a very good transition from "Five Leaves Left" and this album. Very lush luster on it.
Hazy Jane II--I tend to nod my head along to the intro in this song. Drake's voice seems to be even more fragile in the beginning, and then it lowers and becomes stronger as the song becomes takes on a more assured tone.
At the Chime of a City Clock--The beat of this goes along with the lyrics. Seems to be written in a minor key. I don't know, but it's very pretty.
One of These Things First--Probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I love the guitar on this...the piano is crystal-clear, and I love it, too...kind of overshadows the guitar, but still excellent.
Hazy Jane I--I love the orchestrations on this. It's a love song, saying that he accepts her...it's just my interpretation, though...right up there with Northern Sky and Pink Moon. Without a doubt, one of my favorite songs.
Bryter Layter--Beautiful flute and guitar harmonizing. It's so inspiring that I kind of wish that Nick wrote lyrics for this. But then again, that would ruin the beautiful amorphous quality of this.
Fly--Kind of a doleful song. One could just see him standing or sitting dolefully among a tree or two. Check out the lyrics for this.
Poor Boy--Starts out being kind of "coffee-house jazzy"...the background singers are rather sketchy, in my opinion...I like the jazz aspect of this song. I love it when he says, "rover"...it's cute.
Northern Sky--Beautiful as a Northern Sky...I'm serious, even though I sound all treacly. However, the middle of the song, with the piano solo bit? That was so saccharine and corny, I wanted to turn it off. But since it was Drake, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Then, I figured that it was someone else (John Cale), so I decided to harp on it. I mean, where did they get that from? "Tunes 'R' US?" The piano is fine in the rest of the song, but they should've just edited that part out in the remastering. The ending is fine, but I'm just all hung up on that middle part. Beautifully underrated love song...blows all the other fluff garbage singers today out of the water. Drake's voice sounds like he's very much in love.
Sunday--An instrumental with a flute as the "voice." Very expressive, has kind of an elusive quality to it....
on June 21, 2004
"Bryter Layter" superbly pulls one along with a gentle tension: the music is arranged in a largely upbeat manner. Yet Nick Drake often sings about detachment as though it offers stability. It's as though he is the catalyst, melding jazzy riffs and structures with his lyrics that conjure up images of what was, what should have been, what could have been.
Even the instrumental tracks evoke a longing, a need for completion, a yin-yang that does not quite fit.
How anyone could quibble about the significance of this session escapes me: pairing Nick Drake with peers such as Thompson, Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention; John Cale; and Chris McGregor who contributes some excellent piano on Poor Boy is like a folk-rock dream team.
Mr. Drake's delicate vocals and the deft arrangements are the gossamer that binds this session, and "Bryter Layter" should ultimately be remembered for its myriad strengths instead of a foil for the rest of Mr. Drake's work or as a prescient-laden testimony to Mr. Drake's subsequent depression and death.
on March 8, 2004
I heard this album after I had already heard Five Leaves Left and Pink Moon, so I thought it was really weird to hear Nick Drake backed by a jazz band. It didn't seem to go along with him. But I listened to it while driving in a car at night on a rainy day, and it was perfect. I don't think the band dilutes him, I think it just makes this album very different from his two others.(which are definitely not identical to each other in the first place) Not only does it have different arrangements, it's more upbeat, musically if not lyrically. I really like the instrumentals, especially the title track- they're reminiscent of elevator music, but more energetic and more fun to listen to than anything that ever got played in an elevator. However, I can see why people complain, since in many songs, you have to listen hard to make out Nick's guitar. It's nice to hear John Cale on this album, I'm beginning to think that the six degrees of separation rule applies to session musicians as well as movie actors. Surprisingly, his distinctive viola playing suits Nick Drake just as well as it suited the Velvet Underground. This is probably the best of the "jazz-folk" albums of the late '60s and early '70s, it's more cohesive and balances the jazz and folk elements better than similar albums by Tim Buckley and Van Morrison, though both of them definitely did influence Drake. (Maybe it's not better than "Astral Weeks," but it's about as good, and easier to listen to) It also must be mentioned that Belle and Sebastian, and several other indie bands, literally owe their sound to this album(especially "Hazey Jane II"). If you want music that sounds good on a rainy day, but isn't sleep-inducing, or depressing, this is it. Being in a part of the world where there is a lot of precipitation, this album is in my CD player a lot, and it's my personal favorite of Drake's three masterpieces.
on August 27, 2003
Nick Drake's music has, and will never, grow old on me. He had an amazing gift for composing complex songs with poetically complex lyrics that actually meant something once you pondered their meaning (unlike Peter Senfield's pretentious, indecipherable wordplay with King Crimson, for example). Having stellar production helped his songs, also, although this album's title track and "Fly" are marred by unnecessary harpsichord, fiddles and flutes.
Which leads me to this stellar album. It still retains the orchestration of his debut 5 Leaves Left, and it is used to great effect on the moody, cascading opener "Introduction," "Hazy Jane I," and "Sunday," all of which echoes his debut with his complex, fingerpicked guitar melodies pairing up with lush, though not sappy, strings. Horns are also used on the surprisingly energetic "Hazy Jane II," which remains the closest Drake came to sounding like a commercial-sounding songwriter.
But he's still not that commercial, with his sadness clearly showing on "At the Chime of a City Clock," a number that would have sounded right at home on Pink Moon, stripped of its strings, drums, and sax. Also of note are the mellow jazz chords of "Poor Boy," marking the only time that Nick picked up an electric guitar.
By contrast, the jumpy "One of These Things First" is one of the rare occaisons where Nick overtly boasts of not being morose. Driven by a simple, yet complex guitar/piano riff that gives the tune a joyful, inspiring feel. But not as inspiring (or, to be more accurate, awe-inspiring) as the magical "Northern Sky," which actually sounds like modern-day new-age pop (in the good sense), not something recorded in 1970. It is transformed from simply a good folk-pop song to an astonishing masterpiece by a gorgeous, echoing celeste and fabulous piano work by none other than the ex-Velvet John Cale. Yes, the same John Cale who participated in such songs as "Heroin" and "Sister Ray." To this day, "Northern Sky" remains one of Drake's crowning moments.
Even with "Northern Sky," "Introduction," "Hazy Jane II," and "One of these Things First," some of Drake's best moments, Bryter Layter isn't his best album. Yes, it is occaisonally weighed down by too much orchestration, but it has a consistently high quality that most songwriters would have a very difficult time topping. I prefer the haunting, spare Pink Moon, which made a huge emotional impact that is somewhat buried in full productions such as this. Still Bryter Layter is probably one of the finest records from a folk songwriter to come from anyone other than giants such as Bob Dylan, the Fairport Convention, or Phil Ochs. And that's no small accomplishment.
on November 21, 2002
A timeless masterpiece if ever there was one, Bryter Layter includes some of the best songs this poet/genius has ever recorded ("Norhtern Sky,"Fly," and "At the Chime of a City Clock"). There's no question that all Nick Drake material is essential, but this could very well be the best place to start. Drake's influence is flung far and wide, but to date no one has managed to capture sadness in such a perfect, stoic, powerful way.
on March 17, 2004
I'll go out on a limb and just hope that everyone knows that feeling where you're happy through and through and yet there's this deep seated hinting towards a desperate need to cry. I've yet to find a word for it, but whatever the word is, that's what this album is. Musically, there's incredible talent. The lyrics are heads above most. But mostly, it's the feeling that you get out of this.
on November 8, 2012
We all know Nick Drakes albums are all amazing but this version is the best sounding yet!Remastered by the original engineer John Wood and the re-release produced by the original producer Joe Boyd. All housed in a mini lp style cover and included booklet of lyrics. Many thanks to John Wood and Joe Boyd for this release it finally gets the sound it so deserves.
on December 28, 2013
Though I prefer "Fives Leaves Left" and "Pink Moon," "Bryter Layter" is still a good listen. I feel that the music isn't as Nick Drake as his other albums - it's more late-60s/early-70s classic rock oriented... and it does a fantastic job of being just that. I'd definitely recommend the other two albums over this.