The Sad Song Co is Nigel Powell and Mr P is representative of what we call the Mr Bloom factor: Mr B is a gardener on kids’ television and you tend to assume he’s just some guy who can garden a bit and fell lucky. Then you see him live (or you do if you have kids) and realise he is a charismatic, intelligent and talented man.
Ditto Mr Powell. He plays drums with The Sleeping Souls, the ever-touring band for Frank Turner. Mr Turner is so wildly talented his backing band includes a drummer who is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, singer producer, and turns out quality albums in his own right. When he was a kid, young Nige was in a band with Jonny Greenwood and Andy Yorke, brother of Thom, now a top scientist boffin type. This may never sell millions but he’s better at what he does than most.
He’s also thoughtful: his last album, 2016’s In Amber, was about life in an old people’s home. Worth is apparently more of a personal journey, focusing on the “worth” in risk — the risk in relationships, friendships and life in general. He says he struggles with self-doubt and worth, but the overall tone of the album is optimistic.
We like Powell’s solo work, but this is not quite as emotive as In Amber, whether it’s because that had one theme (old age and death) or whether it’s because it was written as one body — at least one track on this new album is an old one. None of the lyrics seem to hit the peak of lines on In Amber such as: “Cruel moment of clarity / Why couldn’t you let me be”. (Sorry, Nigel, this must be really annoying, referencing old albums in a review of the new).
But: the Mr Bloom factor. This is still really good and if you like melancholy songs with intelligent lyrics, it’s more than worth considering. Standout is Worth My Bones, the closest to a pop tune, and featuring layered vocals, including that of his boss, Frank Turner.
Einmal ist Keinmal is another good one, perhaps the closest to the sound of In Amber, offering a kind of chilled sadness, a dreamy chorus over a strong drum track (despite his day job, drums generally do not dominate in Powell songs).