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Dale Nikkel - Passages


Dale Nikkel

Dale Nikkel Productions DNP0605

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Frank Gutch Jr.

I remember hearing Gordon Lightfoot for the first time and thinking, wow, this guy is something special. There was a warmth there missing in many of the standard folk artists' songs and it reached through the speakers and made a connection. So it is with Dale Nikkel, and before you go blogging your head off, understand that I am not comparing Nikkel to Lightfoot musically—they live in different musical realms, on the whole—but they do both project a common sense of humanity. You can hear it in their voices—you can hear it in their music. So let me say this simply: Dale Nikkel the musician is something special.

From the first picked notes of These Are the Glory Days I had the feeling that I knew this guy. A simple folk song about the simplicity and wonder of family life, it reaches out to me. I've sat on that porch and heard guys talk about their families and heard them speak to their wives and children in those tones I did not hear anywhere else. For them, those were the glory days. Nikkel nailed it.

He nailed every song on the album too. He even nailed the one he didn't write, Everybody Knows How to Pet a Dog, written by his producer, one Steve Abma. A semi-talked tribute to dogs, it begins:
"Growing up we had a dog named Moppy
My sister said we should call the cat Broomy
I was nine years old and that cracked me up
Moppy went to heaven and we were all so sad
that every dog since then we just named Max
Max were fine but Moppy was the best we ever had."
I laugh at the picture Nikkel effortlessly paints and wonder how he could not be that nine year old and yet make that song so meaningful. How good is it? It is good enough to stop noise in a crowded bar. I guarantee it.

Worrying's My Way of Loving You echoes the feel of the beginnings of the folk rock movement, a bit of jangly electric guitar driving light rock through the folk vocal. Ditto on Any Day, a song which has that Sunny Goodge Street sound but is unique. Upbeat, it rocks more than most on the CD, but by the time you get to it, you'll be into Nikkel enough to not notice.

The softer folk side is here in Closer To the Flame, Silver and Gold and Listen Close, three ballads ready-made for those moments you might want to reach out to your significant other and squeeze a hand.

He's not all vocals, either. Westminster Morning is an unpretentious acoustic duet with Kimbal Siebert adding resonator guitar: short but sweet.

Steve Abma needs be mentioned here, as his production job is exceptional. From openings strains to the end, there is a cohesiveness that must be Abma-fueled at the least. The musicianship is perfectly matched to the project and all involved—Nikkel, Abma, Joel Kroeker, Kimbal Siebert, Murray Pulver, Daniel Roy and Gilles Fournier—are now on my list of musicians-to-be-watched. Add the beautiful packaging, including lyrics and info booklet, and this CD is a folk fanatic's dream. You can quote me.

Track List:

  • These Are the Glory Days
  • Heathrow
  • Worrying's My Way of Loving You
  • Everybody Knows How To Pet a Dog
  • Closer To the Flame
  • Any Day
  • Easy To Drift
  • Westminster Morning
  • Here We Go Again
  • Silver and Gold
  • Listen Close
All songs written by Dale Nikkel except
"Everybody Knows How To Pet a Dog", written by Steve Abma.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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