Released in June of 2004, “Clear View” is Nancy’s second album. Previously she released “Smitten” in 2001 and a five song self-titled EP in 1997. No stranger to the stage, TV, film and recording studio, she has accomplished a lot in a relatively short space of time.
Originally from the U.S.A., she recently moved to Ireland, “It‘s a long way from Philadelphia, but I think I‘m really starting to like it here!” We’ll make her one of us yet! A singer-songwriter, Nancy’s career as an independent artist has involved singing on many projects with many performers: Donovan, Patty Griffin and Sarah McLachlan to name but a few.
The opening track, “Stay” with its lap steel and lap synth strings, was compared to Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir” in her biography online. This is definitely an accurate description. The harmonies in this song are faultlessly layered and blended. I found the distorted vocal effect in the middle of the track somewhat distracting though.
“Sometimes you jump” is a good example of Nancy’s vocal range. At times as high and sweet as a songbird, it dips seductively low through most of her material. Like most of the tracks on this album, her songwriting abilities stand out. This song could represent any performer’s life changing decision to go into show business and the courage it takes to go for it.
“Sometimes you jump
Just to see what it feels like to fall
But not for any reason at all
Half a mile from everything
Someone tells you, you can sing
And once you start you never stop”
“Clear View” is a deceptively hopeful song. A soft and sad sound with an uplifting refrain, “Got a clear view of hope in the middle of weeping”. I think this one might be representative of a musician’s struggle to get to the top. But it could just as easily be of anyone’s struggle in today’s rat race.
“Blue Ridge Highway” is a purely country track and as such a bit of a departure from the rest of the album. Like all the other tracks on the album, however, it is professional, polished and falls somewhere between Nancy Griffith and KD Lang. Again Nancy’s lyrics shine out from her songs, describing feelings dressed in images.
Distance is the only way to go
Protecting all the truth you‘ve ever known
While looking out the window of your soul”
“Under the sun” has a unique sound. Using what sounds like a phaser/underwater effect on the vocals, her voice comes out sounding like heat shimmer. A bit psychedelic, but its growing on me. “Sleeping East” has a harder sound in the chorus that caught my attention. This was the one place on the album where Nancy lets it rip with raw emotion pulling at the edges of her voice. The rest of the song in comparison was quite slinky and smooth, and the contrast works well.
Listen out for the bonus track at the end of the album, as it isn’t listed on the back of the CD cover and is titled “!(@!”. It’ll take a minute but it’s definitely worth waiting for.
Nancy Falkow - Clear View