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Monday, 15 June 2020

Nick Corbin 'Sweet Escape' a review...

Nick Corbin has penned some of the best modern soul songs of the last ten years during his time with New Street Adventure. Since the band split in 2018 Nick has started to embark on a solo career one that NSA fans couldn't wait to see. Friday 12th June sees the release of Nick's debut solo LP, 'Sweet Escape' a record that we have been lucky enough to hear prior to release. In short, it's superb, but by now you know I'm not a man of a few words so here's my thoughts on one of this year's freshest soul releases...

1. Sweetest Escape 


What a way to start your debut LP. The soulful grooves of 'Sweetest Escape' lure and pull you in, it's Corbin and he's back sounding better than ever. A track that is almost an oxymoron of a tune due to the fact it sounds like it could have been released in 1966 and 2020 which is a great trait to have! Nick has always used elements of the past and brought them into the presence with such fine finesse and style.  This tune was the most recent single of the record and has a differing sound from both 'Long, Long, Gone and 'Can We Do It Again?' which shows the huge variety of the type of tunes that Nick can write, he's a true craftsman of his trade and someone who delivers time and time again! "Thankful for the chance to leave, thankful to be in one piece, thankful for the cleanest break and the sweetest escape I ever could've made..." It's triumphant, emphatic and a superb album opener! 


2. Long Long Gone


Now those of you who are regular readers here (I hope there's a few of you) will know that we reviewed this track not long ago! It's one of those tunes that gets in your head and you won't stop humming it! This track shows the progression Nick has made as a songwriter since his NSA days. It's a funk and soul mash up that will have ears quivering all over the land. It's got a real groove to it this tune and one that carries right throughout the song. There's elements of Ska in there just to add to the mix and Nicks vocal is bang on point here. The catchy chorus of "Now that you're long, long, long gone I know I was wrong, wrong, wrong wrong..." will have you singing it for days on end and believe me that isn't a bad thing! As I mentioned in the single review for this tune the middle eight is outstanding here and bridges that all important gap between verse and chorus. Big tune and a real asset to the record! 


3. Can We Do It Again? 


One of the earlier singles released from the album sometime in 2019, "Can We Do It Again?" continues to illustrate the point that Nick Corbin is one of the best soul song writers of his generation. The brass work is second to none and the creative output here is the best I've heard in a long, long time! The build up to the chorus fills you with joy, "Masters of deception amongst our closest friends..." then the brass hits you again and it's a wonderful feeling that not many can replicate when writing and creating music. The whole song is building up to these joyous choruses that have you singing louder at each one. "Can We Do It Again?" we can certainly play it again, get the volume turned up... 


4. Sunshine In


Every good record needs a change of pace and "Sunshine In" slows down "Sweet Escape" at the perfect moment. After the face paced beginning to the album this tune is a welcome change of pace. It once again emphasises just how good Nick's vocal is, he isn't just a great songwriter, but a great vocalist as well! The gospol choir harmonies in the chorus are nothing short of stunning! The elements that have came together here mix so well and create a beautiful, joyous sound. It's a soul ballad with soft brass work which carries the verses to the huge chorus. "Aretha through the speakers set the mood just right between us..." the Queen of Soul would be proud of this tune, that's for certain, it's stunning! "I'm so glad I let the sunshine in..."


5. Gotta Get Back To You


In life you'll here some songs that instantly grab you and pull you in, this is one of those songs! It blew my mind the first time I heard it and still does (it's been played at least fifty times since) once again it's a tune which shows Nicks versatility as a songwriter.  Heavily influenced by the disco, dance floor sound of yester-year "Gotta Get Back To You" is a song which is bound to get people out on the floor. The violins which open the track lull you into a false sense of security making you think it will be another slower tune but the bars that follow let you know that this an absolute stomper! Nick has the ability to write a number of extremely catchy tracks that will have you humming them in every spare moment of your day. The chorus on this one is huge... Modern soul influenced by dance floor stompers with the the freshest production you'll hear on a record this year! 


6. Never Did Look Like Love


This was another of the singles Nick released prior to the album and what a cracker it is. Harmonies are very hard to perfect but it's safe to say Nick and co nailed them for the chorus parts here. Piano chords hold the tune together and run throughout in 4/4 time giving the tune great consistency. another soulful ballad filled with love and passion, Nick's vocal is cutting and poignant here speaking of love stories gone by..."Most of the time dear, from the outside, it never did look like love..." we've all been there and Nick speaks from the heart which I'm sure will evoke empathy with his listeners. The brass and string work entwines together creating a beautiful, moving melody which is sure to get many feet tapping and nods of all important approval when played out loud, its got to be a closing tune for a future set or playlist... cracker! 


7. Thought It Through


By now you'll realise I love a harmony (done properly) and the opening bars of this track have just that! It's total joy on the ears and needs to be played loud! Nick once again nails it with his vocal which is sharp and intelligent as ever... "The news I'd soon be losing you, hit harder than Anthony Joshua..." its 2020, and it's bang on the money! The arrangements of brass, drums and strings work wonders and interlink perfectly bringing you more than just a song, but an experience.  The influences are heard loud an clear in this one; funk, soul, disco and northern and they're brought together to give you a 2020 British soul tune that will be a dance floor filler come post lockdown! 


8. Don't Break The Mould


Of all the elements Nick and co have used to create this wonderful record the drum work I feel could go under appreciated to the less sussed ear. You won't hear large Indie breakdowns with cymbals flying all over the shop but you will hear; money beats, blues shuffles and jazz swings which are extremely effective and work wonders in every track. "He's pulling out all the stops to customise you, keeps tapping on the table tops, he'll hypnotise you..." if I was every writing an album I'd have Nick on board as a guest songwriter as the intelligence of his lyrics is next level, you won't get any cheap rhyming couplets here! "Don't Break The Mould" could be a Bond opening theme song it's cool sophisticated and has one of the best middle eight's I've heard in a song. Get on this people! 


9. It's Alright To Change Your Mind 


Calm, quiet cymbals open the track and then incomes a Corbin vocal with added reverb changing up the sound of the record even more. It's a jazz/funk masterclass with great brass work and harmonies which reflect the progressive mood of the tune. Like the other songs on the record Nick is leading out front with his fine vocal hitting all of the lyrics bang on time and delivering his message. "Don't fall in line, it's alright to change your mind..." reminds me of being a young Modernist at 15 not wanting to comply and settle for the throwaway 'fashions' of the time. "Just take your time, it's alright to change your mind..." a life lesson in the form of a fantastic song. 


10. I Need Reminding 


Like all of Nicks tracks this is another that when you hearing the opening bars you instantly fall in love with it. The progressive chords used are absolute joy yo the ears and even the most frigid of geezers would want to take to the floor for this one. It slows the record down again into a soulful groove and hits all of the right notes. "Oh won't you hold me now, console me now..." I can hear it being sung on the sussed dance floors of the country already! Another tune that fills your heart and soul full of joy one which needs to be listened to on repeat. 


11. Can't Say Goodbye


A funk bassline to open and those perfect harmonies then accompany it to get the track moving, it's the final bow on a record that has eleven singles rather than three singles and eight album fillers. Nick's consistency to write good songs is second to none and in this genre I can not see him being beaten, he's on serious form. I hate to compare artists and I try not to but I can hear a tiny bit of Chairmen of the Board here and that's a great thing to hear in 2020. I didn't want to say goodbye to this song, let alone this record. 


It's not often I say this but "Sweet Escape" is a complete and utter triumph from start to finish and needs to be played over and over again! Nick I salute you mate this is by far the best thing you've done (and you've produced some of the best soul records of the last ten years!) it gets better with every listen! I can't wait to spin a few of these tunes next time I'm dj-ing. Buy "Sweet Escape" here!


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger