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Album Review: Nell Bryden – Wayfarer

3 min read

American singer Nell Bryden is a songwriter not without experience, moments of her decade plus career have been surrounded by traumatic moments; 9/11 affected her deeply, insufficient project funds and Hurricane Katrina displaced those working on Nell’s third album What Does It Take, and during the recording of her previous album Shake The Tree in 2011 an autoimmune condition induced by stress (alopecia) caused her to lose her hair. However, Bryden has managed to overcome these hurdles over the years, which resulted in performing countless shows internationally and touring with acts such as Counting Crows and Gary Barlow; Nell returns in 2014 with her fifth studio album Wayfarer, sure to be graced with her expertise in story telling.

Nell Bryden WayfarerThe album’s title-track tells the story of a Wayfarer, a protagonist who travels wide observing and questioning life’s problems; the vocal introduces the character with a gentle nature before the track launches into an explosive chorus, adding some drama. Camouflage has an intriguing instrumentation, the guitar sets to work with a cheeky riff and the beat helps to plod things along, Bryden’s soulful pop vocal is captivating; Perfect For Me is a fun and catchy track about the everyday experience of being with your partner. Shadows In The Sun sees Bryden experiment with a more breathier, and lighthearted sound; it’s not as beat heavy to begin with like its predecessors and we hear a fresher element to her vocal. The first track to be released from the new album was All You Had, a demonstration of Nell’s beautiful vocal range with an incredible arrangement riddled with her lyrical touch; Soundtrack is a hand-clapping and finger snapping influence of rock and swing.

Drums and piano dominate the dreamy pop track Waves, Nell sings the melody to perfection; High Rise doesn’t seem to have the same oomph factor behind it like the rest of the album so far, but is still a nice listen nonetheless. Compass brings back the poppy beats to the record, it could pass as a Melanie C track as each artist shares a similar vocal quality, it has a powerful chorus also; Westbourne Park is yet another beat happy track with an intriguing melody to it. There’s a darker vibe to Crescent City Gold, the track gives Bryden another chance to show just how much control she has over the voice of hers; Wolves is this nice and breezy soundscape of beauty, once again Nell’s vocal should be commended and there’s something magical about the song’s arrangement that compliments the melody. The Edge Of The World brings the album to a close on a light, deep and meaningful note; the ballad really brings out the sweeter element to Nell’s vocal.

Wayfarer really shows Nell Bryden’s ever growing development as an artist; each track on the album, whether they are punchy or mellow, has their own story and background to share. As mentioned before, Nell is no stranger to traumatic or life changing experiences, such evidence can be heard in her emotional vocals and the deepness of the arrangements that allow her to tell her stories in the way that she always has. Wayfarer is not a disappointing addition to Nell’s catalogue, and is sure to satisfy her fans and will hopefully touch the souls of others.