For a group that just randomly got together for a weekend to lay down nine tracks that sort of range all over the place in terms of genre, I have to say that Nelson Sobral’s latest work N3lly is fantastic! Not just in lyrical and musical content but the production quality is wonderful. Blasting through my…fairly large Yorkies the sound holds up wonderfully and I get all sorts of senses from 90′s alternative to Americana to folk to country and more. It’s an interesting mix, that’s for sure. Imagine if Chris Stapleton took influence from Rod Stewart, was from Canada, and sang more than just country. That’s sort of what you’re in for when it comes to N3lly. Trust me when I tell you that’s not a bad thing at all.
Nelson Sobral plays for a number of groups in Toronto and even hosts an open mic every Monday at The Painted Lady. I used to host at The Black Irish on Mondays and Duffy’s Tavern on Wednesdays. You can tell when a musician is burning the candle when they’re a member of several bands, host an open mic, and still manage time for a weekend recording session for a completely different project…’Ain’t That The Truth‘? But ‘Baby‘, that’s why ‘Friends‘ are so important. Sobral gathered a group of eight friends and local musicians to lay down the nine tracks to this album and pounded it off in a weekend. Masterfully done too. I don’t know if this was a connection that was made during the production but there is one person for every track on the album if you include Sobral. And each musician surely has their moment to shine in ‘The Light‘.
Fun guitar picking, pretty piano, haunting harmonies, beats that aren’t boring, big bass, sweet sax, the tiniest touch of synth, the occasional bit of dissonance and, of course, Sobral’s gritty vocals that powerhouse through the album. Wonderful!
I’ve read that this particular album has been described as follows: “(Van Morrison’s) Astral Weeks meets (The Beatles) Revolver in the Basement of (The Band’s) The Big Pink.” I’m not entirely sold on that, but I can certainly hear shades of those very things. Perhaps that’s what makes this album so special. There is a throughline by way of Sobral’s signature vocals, and the mix is solid all the way through, but the jumps from one sound to another really make this album fairly universal in appreciation. I’m not sure what more someone could ask for in a release. This is an album drop that can be enjoyed by all manner of people through many generations, across several genres at any time of the day.
What’s most interesting to me about this album is that my two favourite tracks are indeed the bookends of the whole piece. I think that I may have to claim ‘Falling Again‘ as my ultimate favourite but ‘Ain’t That The Truth‘ comes in as a hard second. And for very different reasons. I would listen to the opener of the album if I was out cruising down some country roads or partying it up with some friends at a pub. I would listen to the closer of the album if I was laying on the beach by a campfire, gazing up into the night sky, or tucked away in my place writing along on my next project. The former is a party tune. The latter is a contemplative composition. I love them both. This just further backs my opinion of the universality of this album.
Check it out right HERE! If you’re disappointed when you listen to it, then you need to listen to it again…with real speakers. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the album art, Sobral drew that up when he was a kid. Pretty good foresight, if you ask me.