Album Review – Nick 13
With Nick 13’s first self-titled release, the long-time frontman and principal member of psychobilly band Tiger Army hasn’t just stuck his foot in the door of country music, he’s kicked the door down. This is a good one folks!
The California native’s brand of country is hard, with a lot of Western influences mixed in to the instrumentation and lyrics, contrasted with his soft and delicate, but deliberate voice. At first listen, you might think you’ve stumbled into some adult contemporary with a country flavor from the vocal performance, but the lyrics and music reveal so much more, as the beauty and control illustrated in the vocals grows on you to become the music’s greatest asset.
This contrast between vocal tone and theme is illustrated best in the song “Carry My Body Down”, which captures with perfection the classic lonesome Western sound. The next song, a tribute to the West Coast’s famous coastal highway “101” is a bona fide hit. With an amazingly tasteful approach, using a walk down method in the chorus and building emphasis towards the end of the song when 13’s voice challenges his top range and shines the brightest, this is one of those songs independent country folks can point to as to why country radio is flawed at finding the best of what the genre has to offer, because it doesn’t get any better than this.
And speaking of Nick 13’s voice, the simple and sweet “In The Orchard” is when he creates an absolutely spellbinding vocal feat that really sells you on the notion of him being a premier, top shelf country singer. “All Alone” is a great neo-traditional number featuring the upright bass and a sparse arrangement. The project ends with its hardest composition, the Yoakam-esque “Gambler’s Life”, which again utilizes the lonesome, open Western sound, inspired by the West’s wild heritage an wide expanses.
The lyrical work on this album is nothing superlative, but throughout the album it is consistently solid and accessible. I’d say the same for the instrumentation, which is fleshed out with a very traditional taste. Everything from cover to cover is tastefully done. I find it hard to second guess any decision, arrangement, lyrical composition, performance, or song on this album. It is simply well put together throughout, patient and smart.
My one concern is that hard country folks not familiar with Tiger Army will have a gut reaction to hearing Nick 13’s voice for the first time. In this way, 13’s voice may be a liability in the country world, as well as his greatest asset. My suggestion would be to give his voice time, and appreciate that it will grow on you, and once it does, you will be afforded some of the best music that has been put out so far in 2011.
Two guns up!
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Preview and Purchase Tracks from Nick 13 (only $5.99 right now)
Favorite Tracks: 101, Gambler’s Life, All Alone, In The Orchard
Martin Luther Presley
August 22, 2011 @ 8:03 am
I really don’t like Tiger Army at all, so if it hadn’t been for your enthusiastic review I would never have given this a listen. And I’m sure glad I did. The previews sound great!
August 22, 2011 @ 8:09 am
I’m pretty agnostic about Tiger Army, and honestly am not familiar enough with their stuff to be qualified to formulate any sort of hard opinion. I’m sure there will be some who will not listen to this because of their Tiger Army views, but that would be foolish, because you’ll be missing out on some great music.
August 22, 2011 @ 8:35 am
At times his voice reminds me a lot of Orbison’s..
August 22, 2011 @ 8:54 am
Totally. Great control in the top range with soft corners, not a piercing voice. I totally thought of Orbison when listening to “In The Orchard”.
August 22, 2011 @ 10:25 am
That is exactly the tune that caught my attention..
August 22, 2011 @ 10:25 am
I dig it. I was a bit weary because of TA, but I’m glad I gave your review a read. I really enjoy Nick13.
August 22, 2011 @ 12:38 pm
This was pretty good indeed. Tiger Army is awful.
August 22, 2011 @ 4:25 pm
Thanks Trig for the review. You turned me on to someone new and that’s the main reason I come to this site
August 23, 2011 @ 1:59 pm
Gave the album a listen, and I can say decisively I am not a fan. Bland and his voice is distracting. Good review though. Thanks for the input.
August 23, 2011 @ 5:03 pm
another 13er!?! fuck, i’m glad i don’t like the voice too much… *lol*
no, good job. good sounding stuff. not exactly what i like to hear, but not ok.
August 23, 2011 @ 5:05 pm
*lol* i meant “OK” or “not bad”
not good in typing tonight…
August 23, 2011 @ 6:44 pm
He has a very pretty warble in his voice. I like it.
August 23, 2011 @ 6:52 pm
Me too! Especially in Cupid’s Victim.
August 24, 2011 @ 1:18 pm
I like Tiger Army a lot. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have gotten into psychobilly and I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wasn’t a huge fan of this record at first, but it definitely grew on me. After a few months of listening to it, I’ve come to realize that the only tracks I don’t like are the remakes of “In The Orchard” and “Outlaw Heart”; both of those were already great in their original versions and lose something in the new ones.
Almost Out of Gas
August 26, 2011 @ 11:19 am
Goood stuff! Is this west coast? Reminds me of a lot of Big Sandy, a little more mellow, though. And that’s right up my alley! The music has a really nice drive, you can clearly hear he’s from the rock-a-billy scene.
Thank’s Trigg’, it’s in my Spotify as I’m writing…….
August 26, 2011 @ 5:09 pm
Folks might want to know there is an interview with Nick 13 at nodepression.com.
August 26, 2011 @ 5:10 pm
August 29, 2011 @ 12:44 am
I’ve been a Tiger Army fan for a long time. And though I have enjoyed the faster psychobilly songs, I always wished Nick 13, knowing his country influences would, would make a country album.
Amazing. Now, those who don’t know Tiger Army, go listen to Outlaw Heart, In the Orchard (original), The Long Road, Where the Moss Slowly Goes.
I’m not a general country fan, but it often seems like my favorite rock, etc. songs have a strong country influence.
This album is a great example of what country could be.
September 21, 2011 @ 6:50 am
Okay, so I just found TigerArmy last week. And I love them. I’m listening to Outlaw Heart on repeat and obsessing over it a bit. LOL It’s reminding me not only of another artist but of another song, but I can’t think of the song. Driving. Me. Nuts.
September 11, 2011 @ 1:27 am
I hate to admit it, but Tiger Army was one of my first exposures to “psychobilly” back in ’99 and they led me to discover a whole new genre of music. I loved his voice from the start and am really happy to see him release a solo country inspired album. So what if silly emo kids like him.
May 13, 2014 @ 11:12 pm
Restless moon sounds like an Elvis song
May 13, 2014 @ 11:13 pm