I went to see Keith James perform The Songs Of Nick Drake in Maidstone’s Jazz and Blues Cafe last night.
I don’t like bad reviews so I am going to try and be as objective as possible, but I have to admit that starting of a review like that doesn’t bode well.
To put it simply, if you expect Keith to perform Nick Drake’s songs with the sympathetic accuracy and attention to detail that Nick himself strove to perfect, then you will be disappointed. Keith James is not true to Nick Drake’s performances in guitar playing, melody, style, lyric or attitude.
He is obviously a talented musician, and has a strong voice and guitar, but he didn’t seem to feel a need for keeping accurately to the songs, which I found confusing. I am not sure if this was delibrate or not. What I find difficult to understand is the motivation behind these changes. Either he is not aware of how unfaithful he is being to the original songs – in some cases the differences were vast, or thinks that it doesn’t matter. Given that Nick Drake is the best singer/songwriter who has ever lived, James is brave in trying to “improve” on his material.
I’ll stop there before I get any more mean – if you can’t say something to someone’s face then you shouldn’t write it in a review.
And just to set the record straight, Nick didn’t write Been Smokin’ Too Long, it was Robin Frederick. Nick just changed one line.