Boomkat Product Review:
After delivering one of Morr's most memorable 7" releases in recent memory (Getaway/Leave This Town), singer-songwriter Joel Nicholson has come up with a full-length for the Berlin label, compiling thirteen home recordings largely focussed on whispered vocal and softly plucked acoustic guitar. Former A-side 'Getaway' sets the album underway with a slightly more expansive palette than that, pairing lo-fi fuzztone guitar with simple percussion to evoke a writing style that's somewhere between Smashing Pumpkins and Elliott Smith. That latter name will pop into your head repeatedly over the course of listening to this album. For one thing, Nicholson's voice occupies a similarly hushed register to Smith's in his demo recordings, but beyond that, the melodic content of pieces like 'House / Home' could hardly be more explicitly informed by the late American writer. Nicholson is no one trick pony though: the harmonised voices and carefully fingerpicked guitars of 'Leave This Town' and 'You Know Everything' suggest a strong creative kinship with Iron & Wine's Sam Beam, while 'Bike' and 'Ball Point Skin Notes' are coloured by shades of Sufjan Stevens. It might seem a little tiresome to constantly cross-reference the work of a new singer-songwriter with that of various others operating within the same genre, but it's an almost inevitable part of being a new artist that such comparisons should be invited, and "Sleep At Your Own Speed" is strong enough to survive any familiarities it might carry with it - Nicholson's writing is personal and intimate enough to remain distinctive regardless of what other records come to mind while you're listening. There's a subtlety and honesty to this music that'll keep you returning to it for a good long while. Highly Recommended.