Wednesday, 12 November 2014

NIZLOPI

CD Review

Live (@ The Borderline)

"We have an audience - they know what we are about, they don’t follow us just because of one song," says Luke Concannon emphatically. 

Nizlopi with their get up close and personal with their audience.
Picture copyright of James Beck
Class Nizlopi as a one-hit wonder at your peril, Concannon and musical partner John Parker are much more than that, they had plenty to do together before the hiccough that was the split, and nothing has changed, there is still plenty more to come.
The Leamington Spa lads are back with their first major tour in six years, their warm up gig last year sold out in two hours, a second date sold out in 12 and the night in Dublin on the new tour has already sold out.
It seems the JCB duo are back with a vengeance and to add to the excitement for fans old and new they have released a live album. With Parker's beatbox opening Nizlopi's live album you could easily see traditional folk/acoustic followers running for the hills but you have to get your head round the fact they straddle, folk, indie, acoustic and hip hop.
If you can get on board with that you realise this duo have a lot to say and in a way which connects with their audience, and they say it with a double bass, a guitar and their voices and plenty of heart and that's pretty much it.
I'm Alive Again, from their 2008 album Make It happen, introduces you to Concannon's distinctive voice which often sounds like he is running out of breath as he raps and you also quickly realise the audience is as much a part of the act at their gigs as the instruments they play with such verve.
This album touches themes many would shy away from including, attitudes to being gay, the vagaries of relationships and sexuality. Part of Me is about such doubts and as Concannon gets into full flight you do get the feeling there is genuine emotion and a real longing to express the feelings many people have.
There is such a fusion of styles in their music you are almost tempted to say there is something for everyone but there is something refreshing about the music they produce.
John Parker and Luke Concannon
One of their most popular hits, in terms of their fans that is, is Helen which is another song about relationships. This is a track of contrasts with Concannon's rapping, Parker's beatbox and then the gentle almost classical growl of his double bass which are all fused together to make a whole.
All My Life is much more soulful and has the feel of a Sam Cooke spiritual. Concannon's voice is really different, you always get the feeling that he pushing the top of his range all the time which creates something which sounds like urgent and raw emotion.
It is essentially a modern retelling of a love song.
Following on from this is Freedom which traditionalists could get on board with. The gentle picking of Concannon's guitar is undergirded by the gentle deep resonance of Parker's bass. There are witty touches which allude to Concannon's politics too with lines such as, "It's such a funny story after a winter of getting dull and blue like a Tory."
This is a gentle but thoughtful ballad with a hard edge.
Flooded Quarry starts off sounding like a jazz offering but then in comes the beatbox once again and Concannon's emotional singing brings another song about love and all its aspects.
The new live album
This album of course includes the likeable, cheeky ballad and their massive hit JCB. As Concannon sings this song about his childhood, dyslexia and getting even with the meanies, you can literally see the lined exercise paper and the crudely drawn digger wobbling along like a music video version of Roobarb & Custard.
And the appreciative audience joining in on the live version adds a really enjoyable dimension.
On the final track you get the mellow opening of Concannon on guitar and dragging the audience into the song before unleashing his rapping which is another offering about relationships and how we can all make things Extraordinary.
One of the remarkable things about Nizlopi is that you can like them without really knowing why, they are edgy but at the same time there is something really endearing about them. If you are unsure about attending one of their concerts then this collection, which was recorded over two nights of the sell out gigs already mentioned, will give you a real taste of what to expect. 
If you thought hip hop was too aggressive for you then you should give them a chance, they have this knack of making it palatable without dulling its edginess. Nizlopi are unlikely to appeal to what is disparagingly termed as the beard and sandals brigade but folk music is about being on the fringe of the mainstream and Nizlopi are.

Nizlopi Live (@ The Borderline) is available now through the band's website and on digital download.

Nizlopi are at the Assembly, Leamington Spa on Wednesday November 19 and the Marrs Bar, Worcester on Friday November 28.

For the full interview with Luke Concannon go to http://folkall.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/nizlopi-luke-concannon.html


The Mike Harding Folk Show