Inspired by his home of misty mountaintops in the Blueridge and the wavy milfoil aquatic plants, Nigel Wright wrote Millfoil at the age of 16. Recorded ‘with determination to avoid obvious progressions, standard tunings, and plain chords,’ in a home studio using lo-fi equipment that required careful sound production, he created a beautiful album that displays astounding maturity both in sound and lyric.
The songs in Millfoil range from the vibrant opening track ‘Advances’ – with Nigel’s resonant vocal over percussive guitar and bright piano – to the heart-wrenching fragile ‘Barriers’, where carefully layered yet powerful vocal merges with delicate guitar and piano riffs, that manage to be at once simple yet movingly emotional. Just when you’ve become absorbed in the subtle beauty of Nigel’s intricate music, Millfoil betrays its apparent fragility with sudden entrance of intense guitar cutting and jarring melodies in ‘Solid Muse’. The sensual chromatic colouring in ‘This Far’ adds another dimension of sophistication to the album. His lyrics are subtle, introverted and at times abstract, yet somehow manage to be engaging and vivid.
His natural surrounding remains an inspiration in singles ‘Anna’ and ‘Clear Eyed Plans’ from the form coming album Ebbing Lurid Squander. However, the singles display Nigel’s growth since Millfoil. ‘Anna’ immediately shows light-heartedness in its rhythmical guitar picking and the opening line, ‘I owe my sanity, and most of my insanity, to a cat.’ In ‘Clear Eyed Plans’, Nigel adds density and punch to the song with elaborate layering of vocals and electronic guitar, yet retaining his unique sensitivity. His merge of traditional folk with novel, original sounds establish his powerful musicality.
Nigel Wright will make you sentimental. But you can’t help wanting it; you want to be submerged in his entrancing, frail landscapes that his songs relentlessly paint. Let me know when you manage to find a way out.