Album review: NELL BRYDEN – Wayfarer

Nell Bryden - Wayfarer

157 Records NYC [Release date 28.07.14]

It’s no surprise to read that the title track and lead single from Nell Bryden’s latest album has been play listed on Radio 2.  It’s equally of little surprise that, back in 2008, we were right when we reviewed her ‘Second Time Around’ album and concluded that, despite mainstream media acclaim, her blend of retro 1950′s rockabilly, New Orleans jazz, and Patsy Cline era country and blues was unlikely to meet with major public appeal.

Two albums have passed under the bridge since then – the jazz – blues inflected ‘What Does It Take’ (2009), and the Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris influenced ‘Shake The Tree’ (2012) and, despite a suspicious level of BBC (and in particular) Radio 2 interviews, sessions and play listing, the Brooklyn-born American singer songwriter remains relatively unknown.

But that could be about to change with Wayfarer which marks something of a departure.  As Bryden herself says, ‘Wayfarer is a breakthrough for me.  It’s so up-tempo, and my life is up-tempo right now.  I feel very, very happy’.  And whereas past albums have been reflective and introspective, Wayfarer is more light-hearted, upbeat and ‘poppy’ (in an adult orientated way).

Combining the sensual percussive energy of Tango In The Night-era Fleetwood Mac (‘Wayfarer’) and electronic beats, for the most part Wayfarer looks no further back than the Eighties with hints of the likes of Spandau Ballet (‘Camouflage’) although ‘Soundtrack’ does throw a bit of rockabilly into the mix a la Imelda May.

Vocally, Wayfarer falls between Annie Lennox (the sleeve even bears similarities with Lennox’s Bare) and Judie Tzuke, so it’s easy to see the Radio 2 ‘fit’.  And rather uniquely, Wayfarer comes with a very welcome second disc featuring a stripped back acoustic version of the whole album.  And depending on your mood, it may be that this ‘bonus’ disc will provide the deepest pool to drink from.

All in all, unquestionably Nell Bryden’s finest album to date, and a rather nice package.  Well worth investigating.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley



On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)

Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)



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