With a lengthy band resume up his sleeve, including Cordazine, Blindside and The Earthmen, Nick Batterham has finally released his first solo album. As a result, Second Lovers has obvious production value, as Batterham has spent the last decade producing music and working with film sound design.
Each song is layered beautifully with a range of instruments, without being too over-crowded. The simplicity of his music is what makes it so appealing and usually, Batterham sings over simple acoustic guitar or piano backing, leaving greater emphasis on his vocals and lyrical structure.
As his first solo outing, Batterham seems to lack confidence and this becomes evident in his sound. With obvious influence from the likes of Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan, it often feels as though Batterham is trying too hard to capture the essence of their music, instead of building on it and creating something completely original.
The opening track, Everything You Need, is the type of thing you would expect to hear in an emotional episode of The OC. It shares the appeal of James Blunt’s earlier hits; sweet and easy to listen to but, luckily, without the overbearing whine of Blunt’s voice.Extraordinary is one of the best tracks here, but not given the time it deserves, while stock-standard Paul Kelly rip-offs/homages, such as Good Things Come, seem drawn-out and repetitive.
Elsewhere, the lyrics of Dragonfly are particularly unimaginative, and I’m sick of hearing artists preach that “I wish I were a [insert animal], so I could [do whatever that animal does]”. It’s becoming somewhat of a ‘lyrics by numbers’ approach and officially overused.
Batterham mentioned that his songs are often recorded the same day they are written, which explains how some unnecessary lyrics pop-up from time to time. Most noticeably, “pretty girls may try to drop my pants” in the middle of seemingly innocent Everything You Need, and later in the tortured Over You, when Batterham starts the second verse with the confusing “Draw up a page, with four end-against columns, there’s no time like today”. These lines feel as though they were added out of negligence rather than necessity, and damage the overall impact of the songs.
All-in-all, Second Lovers is likeable but not amazing. Hopefully Batterham continues to pursue his own distinct sound and returns with a follow-up worthy of his obvious talent.