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Tree House Fire
(2024 - Werf Records - Netherlands)

Take a listen:


Tragedy can rip the soul out of the true artist, and in extreme cases, it nearly destroys them, but stands them back up again, to perform at their best. I have heard some very sad songs among the dozens of albums (since the formation of the band in 1974) but they were always peppered with sometimes high spirited pieces, often with a slice of humor, and always fused with unforgettable hooks, lyrics, and atmosphere. So it should not come as a surprise under the circumstances as to how and why this EP came about (a tragic fire that burned down the band's studio) . The songs are not only sombre, but reflective, and full of melancholy, with a pinch of warmth (showing the fond memories the members each had of their much loved recording studio). It needs mention that 'Month of May' is somewhat upbeat and with a bouncy rhythm, all the while giving another deeply impressionistic glance of the memories from this special place (studio). These songs are huge.

One cannot deny that the six songs have an affect that captures the musicians with a heavy heart, and partly minus the energy of early years (compute age with that for a fair call). But these tunes also express raw emotions, what is true, and from the guts of each artist present. As any old fan would expect, every composition is gorgeous! The arrangements perhaps more sparse than usual, but with multiple listens, the bars open up and sneak plenty of that Nits atmosphere in.  There are also some secrets here and there, buried in the lyrics (depending on how good your history is with the band, one will have a good hunt in a couple of discoveries). The only thing that has really changed about the Nits music, is where it was recorded (tracks 1-4 at Studio 150 and tracks 5-6 at Studio de Generator).

Still in perfection are the vivid musical paintings, rich descriptions in the vocals, and their extremely high skills in musicianship. These poetic communicators are still among the best in the world at what they do, and most fans know of the talent these musicians possess (for instance R.J. Stips was with Supersister, and stints with Golden Earring, Gruppo Sportivo, Transister, and number of solos, and various other guest spots over the decades). Each member has released solo work and many other guest seats. Pages could be written of the discographies, but I will keep focus on this noted release.  

The core band stays strong : Rob Kloet (Drums, Percussion, Whistle), Robert Jan Stips (Synthesizers, Keyboards, Vocals), and Henk Hofstede (Vocals, Guitar, Piano). And they bring in three exceptional female backup vocalists (on tracks 2,3, & 4) : Jane Bordeaux (Backing Vocals), Sacha de Bruin (Backing Vocals), Sheena Tchai (Backing Vocals).  It is highly suggested that you buy either the vinyl or the compact disc, as it has a four page booklet with lyrics and many details. Also a much appreciated gesture to a band who lost much of their equipment and lifelong belongings. If you miss the larger than life music that often showed up on each recording of the past, then enjoy 'Big Brown Building Burning', and 'The Bird' which  both have the same huge sound the band created with only three or four musicians (even live), and retains the superb story telling method Nits have always had. If you want dramatic, then absorb 'The Attic', which has to be among the most striking Nits songs ever written. By the way, the two things still remaining from the fire were the tree and the bird, so it is easy to hear and feel the further emotions in those works. The more listens, the more stunning !!  A promise from this author. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson  2 - 10 - 2024

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