Release Date: Jan 29, 2016
Record label: Woodsist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Guitar Virtuoso
The time that it takes an artist to become restless and chameleonic is becoming shorter and shorter these days. It’s almost expected of our modern musicians to be able to jump ably between styles and moods, sometimes within the course of a single LP. All the better to pique the curiosity of us equally overburdened music scribes. (“She stopped using synthesizers and is now only writing songs on Autoharp? This I gotta hear.”) Irish guitarist/songwriter Cian Nugent certainly takes this idea to heart.
After the celebrated solo acoustic guitar album Doubles, in 2011, Irish guitarist Cian Nugent brought in the Cosmos for 2013's sprawling exercise in jamming, Born with the Caul. Though still primarily instrumental, the latter revealed how many other influences -- from Television to the Grateful Dead, from Pentangle to Fairport Convention -- lie in his playing and composing ideas. Night Fiction is the first album to showcase Nugent as a singer as well as a formidable guitarist.
The key to understanding Cian Nugent is "Things Don't Change That Fast." That's the title of the first single from Night Fiction. To begin, the Irish guitarist delicately strums the same chord five times, one for each time he sings a word in the title, demonstrating quite plainly that no, things don't change that fast. This ethos applies to Nugent's career—Night Fiction is his third album, but his first as a singer/songwriter—as well as his technique.
It’s not as if Cian Nugent still needs to find his voice. The guitar player started his career as a solo guitarist who could, in a way that seemed effortless, translate thoughts into sound. 2013’s Born With the Caul was his debut as a bandleader, and he guided that band — again with a seeming effortlessness — through hills and canyons of sound, sagely allowing his guitar to take a step back when it needed to, letting the stew to churn on its own.
Dublin guitarist Cian Nugent has been digressing beautifully for a few years now, pushing at the seam where psychedelia, country and the Takoma school of folk ragas meet. His previous three works have been as instrumental as they have been restless. But Night Fiction unveils the previously elegiac Irishman as that most over-represented of beasts – a warbly singer-songwriter – on five of its seven tracks.
Cian Nugent’s come-up has an old school ring to it. His is the increasingly rare tale of someone fully mastering a craft (in his case, the guitar) before building upon it. It’s the journeyman narrative of Jimi Hendrix coming up behind Wilson Pickett and Sam Cooke, Duke Ellington tickling the ivories of Harlem clubs before taking charge of the road squad, or even more recently Blake Mills, session guitarist turned cult songwriter.
Cian Nugent sang a little bit on “Houses of Parliament,” the side-long closer from 2013’s Born with a Caul, and he rocked the power pop pretty convincingly in the 2012 self-titled from Dublin’s 1s. So though he’s mostly known as one of the American primitive guitar revival’s more prominent young pickers (alongside Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn, William Tyler, Daniel Bachman and others), he’s also got some ambitions in the song-based direction. Night Fiction is his first full-length to explore those inclinations in a relaxed, down-tempo, country-slanted California kind of way.