Nigel Harpur – “Carnival For Little Creatures”

Hearing this album, I am reminded that we are in a new era of the modern multi-instrumentalist. We instrument playing folk didn’t have the tools to be heard by the masses 20 years ago. Few among us could could afford to go into a studio and put together an album, let alone release it to the masses digitally, but now we can. With home studio equipment being more of an attainable cost, and producing quality recordings that rival that of $500/hour professional studios, here we are. Get ready for us.

All that being said, Nigel Harpur makes it clear he is a talented multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer with this album. His self-described “cross-genre” music has an underlying jazz flair, but it definitely explores the pathways into other areas as it lets those influences in to create the story of a musical adventure.

One of the things that stood out to me most is the polished, intentional sounds of this album. Nigel manages to make it sound spontaneous and interesting, but you can tell he spent a lot of time dialing things in and making them “just right.”

For example, there are several moments on “Walking to Jamaica Inn” where the music stops and the drums make a few tasteful hits between parts, that he added just enough reverb to those drum hits in that moment to give them quite a nice punch. A lot of people wouldn’t think to do that.

And the purring cat at the end of “Her Gentle Heart,” wowzers. Suddenly the title and theme of this album was becoming more real.

Speaking of “Walking to Jamaica Inn,” I loved the plodding bass line on that song, the foundation of which provides a perfect platform for the “wordly” sound of other instruments to step in. You feel like you are on a well-worn path, leading a pack animal by rope, as you experience all the sights and sounds of a peaceful, melodic day.

One might describe this music as “jazz fusion,” and I supposed that is correct in some ways, reminiscent of Mahavishnu Orchestra at certain times and Jimmy Smith at others, but it is also more exploratory, as you can hear different rhythms and instrumentation that are evidently influenced by other genres.

But putting things into genre boxes isn’t really the point here. This is interesting, fun music to listen to. It is finely crafted and well executed. Sign me up for more.

Find Nigel Harpur’s “Carnival For Little Creatures” on BandCamp and learn more about Nigel on his website.

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