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Nell Bryden - What Does It Take?

Nell Bryden, What Does It Take?

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NELL Bryden is a New York-based singer who broke the UK scene in a big way last year [2008] following support from the likes of Terry Wogan and Janice Long.

She’s also the artist who famously funded her music by selling an original 1952 Milton Avery painting she found in her loft, and the singer who was asked by Armed Forces Entertainment (USO) to play a tour for the coalition troops serving in Kuwait and Iraq.

Live From Iraq, the LP that resulted from that invitation, was released at the start of the year in the UK and became a critically-acclaimed hit.

It’s followed by What Does It Take?, a collection of 11 songs that should boost her appeal still further on these shores.

Bryden is an unshowy singer but that’s part of her appeal. She has a strong voice, but isn’t prepared to resort to histrionics to showcase it.

Rather, she delivers the songs in honest, heartfelt fashion. Tracks like Not Like Loking You are delivered with real meaning, in a country/bluegrass style – and yet they don’t even mark the sound of the singer at her best.

Rather, boppy opener What Does It Take? charms with its upbeat breeziness and gospel-tinged backing, while Helen’s Requiem unfolds in intimate fashion and slow-burns its way into your heart.

Second Time Around is a good ‘ol rock ‘n’ roll offering that waltzes its way through two minutes and 12 seconds of tinkling piano loops and jazzy organs, and Tonight is an evocatively delivered slice of retro soul that charms by virtue of its traditional values and banjo strums.

Late Night Call, meanwhile, is just a good-time finale that comes complete with lush vocals, chirpy banjo licks and washboard and spoon backing to really accentuate the old-fashioned values.

If there’s criticisms, the variety that’s found towards the beginning and end of the LP isn’t always reflected in its middle section, where there are a few too many dusky ballads, but in the main this is a rewardingly old-school listen that marks another significant achivement from Bryden.

Download picks: Tonight, Late Night Call, Tonight, Second Time Around, Helen’s Requiem

Track listing:

  1. What Does It Take
  2. Not Like Loving You
  3. Where The Pavement Ends
  4. Helen’s Requiem
  5. Goodbye
  6. Only Life I Know
  7. Second Time Around
  8. Meridian (I Love The Same)
  9. Green Dress
  10. Tonight
  11. Late Night Call