Album: Franz Nicolay, Major General (Decor)
Friday 17 July 2009
As the keyboardist in the Hold Steady, Franz Nicolay serves as the Roy Bittan to Craig Finn's Springsteen, animating the singer's street parables with florid flourishes.
The Springsteen influence carries over into Nicolay's songs, both in the soul-searching street-opera narrative of "Nightratsong" and the overwrought delivery of "World/Inferno vs. the End of the Evening", a mannered reminiscence of high old times and high old flames. Catastrophic romance is a theme, most explicitly in "Confessions of an Ineffective Casanova", where serial failure leaves Nicolay acknowledging, "But what do I know about love except love songs?". The most poignant of these musings is "Cease-Fire, Or, Mrs. Norman Maine", a song about trying to reignite a love-hate relationship from long ago. Musically, the album relies mainly on brash rockers in E Street Band/Hold Steady style, interspersed with subtler treatments such as the jazz-guitar arrangement of "Do We Not Live in Dreams?". But Nicolay's not a natural vocalist, – a shortcoming which, combined with his taste for flamboyant arrangements, lends a David Ackles-esque quality to his rumination on gentrification, "Dead Sailors".
Download this: 'Cease-Fire, Or, Mrs. Norman Maine', 'Hey Dad!'
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Jimmy McGovern's new TV series 'Banished': Why Australia's past has such resonance today
The Walking Dead, Remember, review: The discovery of a new community leads Rick to a dark decision
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'