Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972), 8/10

Take the emotionally devastating songwriting from Five Leaves Left and the sentimental appeal of Bryter Layter, strip it all down to its purest, rawest form and you get Pink Moon. The title track is catchy and a great way to keep some of Nick Drake's most immediately attractive qualities, including the only additional instrumentation beyond his guitar and voice on the whole album, in the form of the piano riff on this track. The strumming and soft vocal delivery in "Place to Be" are some of Drake's best here or anywhere, as is the songwriting. The guitar arrangement in "Parasite" is intoxicating as it is droning and a good example of how Nick was able to write something so sparse that could complement his voice flawlessly despite its simple purity. You won't find a track without this wonderful dynamic working in his favor, and that's what makes this album so special along with its unique historical background. The only track you could call overly simple would be “Know”, other than this straightforward riff and vocal hook there is a surprising amount of complexity and nuance in such a stripped-back, emotionally vulnerable album. Nick Drake’s singularly soothing vocal qualities meshed with his uniquely warm, unadorned acoustic guitar make a lovely pair and give the album much of its enduring appeal. Many of his greatest compositions are among this track list as well, namely “Place to Be”, “Parasite” and the closer “From the Morning”. While it excels for its candor, openness and purity, it is also restrained by these same qualities in comparison to his earlier work, namely Five Leaves Left. It does round out his short catalogue, however, and brings a natural balance to his career just before its close, signaling an important part of his legacy and its time. If nothing else, Pink Moon gives us a direct line into Drake’s supreme talent and much of what made him such a special yet tragic songwriter and performer.