Heads up people. Any notions that Stevie Nimmo might get left behind by the gathering momentum of younger brother Alan’s outfit King King should be dismissed immediately. Put simply, on his second solo album Sky Won’t Fall the material, the delivery and the sound have all come together for Nimmo the Elder to deliver one of the most impressive albums of the year so far. The quality standards may slip once or twice – one of them being the rather clichéd lyric of the Allman Brothers’ ‘Gambler’s Roll’ – but this is praising with faint damns.
The muscular riffs familiar from some of the Nimmo Brothers’ past material are present and correct on a number of tracks, beginning at the very beginning with ‘Chains Of Hope’. The
following ‘Roll The Dice Again’ hits the nail on the head even
harder, with its urgent, spiky chords, while ‘Still Hungry’ offers up a tough,
grinding statement of intent – and on all of these songs Nimmo’s characteristic
booming, resonant vocal is also to the fore.
But even on these hard-hitting songs, whether it’s because he’s
liberated by the sense of starting a “new chapter of my musical life”, or perhaps
because of the influence on the sound of knob-twiddler Wayne Proctor, Nimmo’s
delivery sounds unforced and at ease.
|Stevie Nimmo, giving it large|
This tight but loose vibe continues as the album explores other styles, among them the slow blues of ‘Running On Back To You’, a highlight on which Nimmo’s measured vocals and soloing revolve around a hypnotic groove firmly underpinned by Mat Beable’s bass. Meanwhile there’s a wonderful simplicity to the loping ‘I’ll Pray For You’, with its repeatedly swelling chorus over unfussy drums from Craig Bacon, which shows a real lightness of touch, especially in Nimmo’s vocal.
That delicacy is also evident in the ‘head’ voice Nimmo deploys to good effect on ‘Change’, and in the fragility of the highly personal closing track ‘Love You More Tonight’, where Nimmo juxtaposes hard questions with the image of his baby daughter.
I recall Alan Nimmo at a Nimmo Brothers gig last year reflecting on ‘Gotta Slow Down’ by saying with a chuckle “That’s our dance track.” But hey, why shouldn’t burly Glaswegians trip the light fantastic? And just to prove the point, Stevie Nimmo serves up ‘Lovin’ Might Do Us Good’, as breezy a cocktail of funk to evoke warm summer evenings as you could hope for.
I’ve got to be honest, Sky Won’t Fall is better than I was expecting. Like a golfer well and truly in the zone, Stevie Nimmo has played a round where he’s managed to strike the ball out of the sweet spot time after time. Good on him.