Nick Drake’s personal story is one of depression, loneliness, and eventually a far too early exit from this world. His music never drew a significant following until well after his death, which is an utter shame. However, what we as listeners are left with is a group of albums that has stood the test of time and influenced countless legions of followers in its wake.
Bryter Layter is Drake’s sophomore effort, and his most complete album. While Pink Moon is what gave Drake the cult following he has now amassed, Bryter Layter is clearly his most ambitious work in terms of breadth and scope of work. From the beautiful instrumental opening of “Introduction”, the albums flows through 10 wonderfully crafted, hushed folk songs. Each song off of this album could have been a single upon its release in 1970, and each brings a new flavor into Drake’s catalogue.
Drake’s debut album, Five Leaves Left, cast him as a depressed artist seeking both validation and redemption of some kind. Bryter Layter continues in his anguish, but opens doors into a wonderfully world of intense emotion, not at all times negative either. There is a playfulness to some of the tunes that can’t be denied. It is a wonderful morning album to put on with the sun shining through the curtains; but an equally enthralling piece to listen to at any time of the day.
Bryter Layter has provided inspiration to countless artists, such as Elliott Smith, Ben Gibbard (Death cab for Cutie), and Matt Berninger (The National), and Drake’s fanbase has only grown over the years. While certainly not groundbreaking work in terms of its sonic achievements, Drake’s catalogue has found a niche in the saturated market of singer-songwriters, and we are the better for that.
-Dave Tobias @tobiasdt