When you have the comfort of working on your ninth album without the rush to meet a deadline, you really want to take your time, especially if it’s your first solo outing in 18 years. For singer songwriter Nick Heyward Woodland Echoes, his forthcoming album out November 3 on Red River/BFE Entertainment, served as a reminder of things he is grateful for. “I’m glad I’m alive, I’m glad that I’m writing and putting records out.” His appreciation for making music is reflected on all 12 tracks on this breezy, smart pop gem.
Nick has been putting out great pop songs since his band, Haircut One Hundred, blasted on to the scene in the early 80s earning four UK Top Ten and two US Top 40 singles with “Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl),” “Love Plus One,” “Nobody’s Fool” and “Fantastic Day” from their debut album, Pelican West. While enjoying the early days of success, differences in style and direction led Heyward to leave his post as front man and lyricist to begin his solo career.
An artist who has always been well received by both critics and fans, Heyward released three solo albums in the 80s, three in the 90s (including a 1998 release on Creation Records at the behest of Alan McGee) and two 2 collaborations in the aughts. A 2013 announcement of new music was met with eager anticipation, but supporters would have to wait until 2015 for a preview of what would become the music on Woodland Echoes.
Recorded at his son Oliver’s studio, on a houseboat in Key West, and Zak Starkey’s Salo Sound studio deep in the UK countryside, Nick deliberated over the music until he felt it was ready. “At first, I wanted it finished straight away.” he says. “But then, ‘that’ll do’ became impossible for me; in fact, it was the opposite – as soon as someone said something would do, I knew it wouldn’t!”
It’s that precise attitude that makes Heyward’s music so special. This album, like all of his work, is made with the same passion, introspection and grace found in all of his music. An avowed lover of nature and the outdoors, you can hear that influence in all the tracks, particularly “Beautiful Morning.” “Love is the Key By the Sea,” which opens the album, is a bold and harmonious love song, and the jazzy snap-your-finger fun of “Who” is most certainly a tip of that hat to Mr. Paul McCartney. “Baby Blue Sky” is a rapturous beach song with a dash of Oasis thrown in to the mix, and lead single “Perfect Sunday Sun” is the most perfect 70s era pop song. Heyward, who has always been singled out as a strong and thoughtful lyricist, continues his streak of songwriting success on Woodland Echoes, which feels warm and intimate.
All things being equal though, the Nick Heyward of 2017 isn’t the same person as the Nick Heyward of 1982. “You have to find peace and love; it’s a process – my early songs were always bittersweet – the verse would be going through the struggle, but then it would be ‘it’s a fantastic day’; but there was always that struggle. On this album, that struggle is gone. The songs on Woodland Echoes are reflective of the past 10 years.”
It’s a treat to have Nick Heyward back making premium pop music. In 1985, Nick told Smash Hits magazine that “I want to make the kind of LP you can wrap up and give to someone as a present. No duff tracks at all, just 12 shining wonderful singles, I suppose.” In 2017, with Woodland Echoes, he has finally achieved his goal.
Full Track Listing:
1. Love is the Key by the Sea
3. The Stars
4. Beautiful Morning
6. Forest of Love
7. Baby Blue Sky
8. I Can See Her
9. Perfect Sunday Sun
10. New Beginning
11. I Got a Lot
12. For Always
Check out Nick performing some of the new “Woodland Echoes” tunes as well as some classic Haircut One Hundred music here: https://vintage.tv/episodes/nick-heyward-live-at-the-water-rats-2/