Nice is such a terrible word, a bland word that really says nothing at all. In Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Henry Tilney says of nice, “Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything’ and that sort of sums up Australian, Nathan Flint’s debut album, Stay Here”.
From the opening track, Stay Here, it evokes the sound of every person you’ve ever heard on an open mic night in your local pub, the kind of person that you’d watch for a bit before heading the bar to get another round in. Ten tracks of inoffensive (mostly) acoustic folk-pop with the occasional twang of banjo or a slice of violin. That is where this review could end but I will persevere…
‘Stay here, I’m not like all them’ sings Flint, ‘hear me, I don’t talk like them’ on the album’s title track, Stay Here. At first the song seems like a promising, if not earth shattering opener. Gentle plucking of an acoustic guitar and Flint’s rousing baritone, radio friendly vocal call to mind emergence of folk-pop music that has happened in recent years with acts like Benjamin Francis Leftwich gaining prominence. The bugbear is though, that Flint does exactly that, he sounds exactly the same as everyone in that scene, who has the thought to pick a guitar and begin writing. Stay Here meanders to its conclusion, with the second half of the song adding heavily strummed guitar, and an almost country twang reminiscent of a Johnny Cash tribute act. It’s supposed to be a love song, with the line, ‘lean on my skin, it’s not like where you’ve been’, except it all feels a bit false and you end up thinking you’d rather not lean anywhere, thanks all the same.
Second track, Wanted is wrapped in an electric guitar and Flint has discovered the gain setting on his amp. This is an attempt at heavy rock. Well, it would be an attempt at heavy rock if it was sponsored by Marks & Spencer. ‘Have you ever wanted someone you can’t have?’ asks Flint. Wanted sounds messy, the full band effect is not working here. It’s pub rock at its very worst.
If there are stand out moments, they all seem to happen on the songs that ditch any attempt at heavy and involve ukulele, banjo and guitar. It’s in these sparse moments that Nathan Flint’s voice is allowed centre stage. I Will Succeed is extremely twee, with upbeat melody, whistling (yes, whistling) and saccharine lyrics but catchy enough that it will probably be used in a prime time ad campaign sometime soon.
Overall Stay Here is such an underwhelming debut. The lyrics are simplistic and straightforward. Any attempt to tell a story is clumsy and un-engaging. The melodies have been heard a thousand times before by musicians with far more talent. In short, this is a forgettable attempt at unoriginal singer songwriter fodder.
Stay Here is out now via the A&R Department
This Nathan Flint article was written by Jessica Otterwell, a GIGsoup contributor