Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, a Journey on Piano
Ponderosa Music Recs
Nick Drake’s third and final album is my favourite from his finite catalogue, a record so shy and warm and calmly jittered, a record so deep that its 28-minute run time makes it perfect for playing on repeat. When I first heard it I was deeply moved. That feeling stays with me for each and every listen.
So when I first heard about an album of instrumental piano covers it was big toe in the water first to test. You want to like something like this, absolutely. But you proceed with caution.
Have no fear though, I’m hear to tell you – having listened to this record on a loop for days, and allowing it to take me back to multiple listens of it source material and then back into its strange and beautiful, billowing folds – that Dorelli’s care and attention and calm in transliterating this music from voice and guitar to piano is subtly astounding.
Finding out that the pianist has had a lifelong love of Keith Jarrett’s monumental Koln Concert was no great surprise (it’s there in the opening notes to the version of the title track and even more so in the way he opens up Place To Be like a flower) but it was every assurance I needed.
That same care and discipline (jazz and classical and the cusp) mixed with an improvising spirit (the extraction of seemingly ‘extra’ melody as he circles then cycles through Horn and Know) is evident; is this album’s absolute winning grace.
As with Brad Mehldau’s cover works, these are both tributes and their own thing. Which is to say any piano-music fan could listen to this and maybe let it guide them toward the original Pink Moon. Fans of that source material aren’t going to have that album ‘replaced’ but are going to hear its hallmarks, reshaped, recontextualised but forever in service to the originals; absolute debt of gratitude.
Road almost feels like those ambient records where Brian Eno was producing Harold Budd, and this album’s centerpiece – as with the original record – is Things Behind The Sun. Here, all of the lyricism is there, though it creeps into place more gently, arriving by stealth and then unfolding as if a magic trick.
It’s hard for me to hear this album as anything but. It really is a magic trick. Both perfect tribute to a special record. And its own thing entirely. Amazing. Not a replacement. But absolutely a soul echo.