Creative Review New Music
Nick Heyward announces his eagerly anticipated solo album ‘Woodland Echoes’, set for release on 4 August 2017 via Gladsome Hawk.
With a pre-order PledgeMusic campaign already in full swing, Nick’ first solo album in eighteen years is available on signed CD, deluxe mediabook CD and vinyl.
Prior to his hugely successful and prolific solo career, Nick came to prominence as the frontman of percolating pop-funk new wave group Haircut 100, a foundational part of the 80s pop explosion. They released four UK Top 10 hit singles, with their debut album ‘Pelican West’ reaching no. 2 in the UK album charts, no. 31 in USA’s Billboard 200, and ending up being certified platinum by BPI, with Nick gracing the cover of pacesetting style magazine The Face.
Recordings for what would become Nick’s ninth album started in his son Oliver Heyward’s studio, continued in award-winning producer and engineer Ian Shaw’s boat-studio in Key West, Florida and were completed back in the UK at The Who and Oasis’ drummer Zac Starkey’s recording studio. The album was affected by Florida’s abundant beauty and Nick’s passion for the natural world, making ‘Woodland Echoes’ an album of exceptional warmth and intimacy, that sounds – as he says – “like it should be on vinyl”.
Opening track ‘Love Is the Key by the Sea’ is classic Heyward pop – elegant, subtle and madly catchy – with a lyric conveying the wonder of finding peace within one’s self: ‘Love is an open book, Open to take a look’. Crossing continents and times, the upcoming first single, ‘Mountaintop’, was inspired by a poignant mountaintop scene in Sam Wood’s 1939 film ‘Goodbye, Mr Chips’, but was written at sea-level and infused with his love for the rootsy sound of Americana.
The field recording used in ‘Beautiful Morning’, creates a delicate flower bed that’s essentially a spiritual love letter to his fiancée. The honest and confessional lyrics celebrating love in its purest form. Elsewhere the pastoral bliss of ‘I Can See Her’, the interweaving harmonies of ‘I Got a Lot’ (which see Nick working with former Haircut 100 drummer Blair Cunningham) and the college rock choruses of ‘Perfect Sunday Sun’, make the album a compelling return for the widely praised and internationally acclaimed artist.
The album follows up on a string of successful solo records, starting with ‘North of a Miracle’, co-produced by The Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, which reached no. 10 on the UK album chart. In contrast with his eccentric pop days with Haircut 100, it explored a sound that, in ambition and lushness, was closer to The Beatles than to the new-wave jazz-funk fusion of his former band. With his album ‘From Monday to Sunday’ achieving his first American hit in the 90s with ‘Kite’, it reached no. 2 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. The follow-up, ‘Tangled’, was named by NME one of the best albums of 1995.
With Alan McGee’s Creation Records as his new home, Heyward showed with ‘The Apple Bed’ to be worthy of a place at the top table of British pop iconoclasts, alongside XTC’s Andy Partridge and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, with Pixies and Radiohead’s favourite producer Chris Sheldon on mixing duties. Two collaborative albums followed up in early 2000s, ‘Open Sesame Seed’ with British actor Greg Ellis reading Heyward’s poetry, and ‘The Mermaid and the Lighthouse Keeper’ a collaboration with actress India Dupre.
‘Woodland Echoes’ represents the masterful culmination of the last ten years of Nick Heyward’s solo career, drawing together the strength of his expertly crafted songwriting and gifted lyricism in what is one of the most captivating releases of the year. With his recent solo set at this year’s Great Escape Festival praised by Drowned In Sound and his recent full band headline show at 229 received a raving review by Metro – Nick’s return to the music scene and to the live circuit will affirm his membership in the pantheon of classic pop songwriters.