Nick Harper has been my biggest musical influence ever since I was little. He’s hands down my favourite songwriter and artist other than Mr Jeff Buckley. I’ve been brought up with Nick’s music and also his father’s music as well, Roy Harper. When I first heard that Nick was touring with a band (the Wilderness Kids aka “Port Erin”) back in 2016, it definitely caught my attention, but then I found out he was recording an album with them too… I was ecstatic. Released on Friday 8th December, “Lies! Lies! Lies!“ is political and opinionated. Even the album cover has some very familiar faces on it. I’ll try to not be so biased while writing this review and be completely open with my thoughts.
Nick has many views against the being he’s singing about in this title track. “Lies! Lies! Lies!” is about, well, you guessed it, President Trump. Mr Trump isn’t liked by many people at all and this song is basically a story of why Nick & the Wilderness Kids don’t like him either. The song is groovy and it’s filled with rhythmical goodness. It’s an angry song and very political but it’s definitely emotional and a cry out with how a lot of people have been feeling since Trump has gotten into power.
“Nobody Loves You” is another political story based on a true event (so I think!) Woody Guthrie wrote lyrics about Fred Trump for racism. The song itself though is upbeat, powerful and it sure does deliver as it completely rocks! I love how with songwriting, the song itself can be about anyone you want it to be about. Yes, this song is political, but it doesn’t really have to be if you don’t want it to be. It could be about your worst enemy and how nobody loves them. Overall though, great song and one of my favourites.
The next song on this political album isn’t actually anything to do with politics. It’s literally about “Leaving the Club”. It’s a disco rock kind of song that is simply groovy and makes you want to dance. It’s filled with fuzzy guitar which makes it different and not just like any other groovy disco rock song. After such political songs, you’d think this surely needs to be related to something political, but like I said, it’s about leaving the club and also not having enough money to go back there, which I guess could be took as a political way as the country is broke. It seems like we need a magic money tree!
Next we have another personal favourite one of mine. The subject is fairly simple as it’s literally about “Black Friday” which is a shopping sales event that originally started in America, but we get it over here now in the UK! (Yay cheap stuff!) This is another song that isn’t political. I really love how one of the guitars gives this flamenco style in the verses which is really unique. I give it to the bass player as well, throughout all of these songs, the bass has constantly been grooving and constantly moving, round of applause to Jacob Tyghe. When it goes into the real cool, jazz part, it sounds very heavenly and dreamy. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, maybe this part is related in the way that when we see an item in a shop and instantly want to buy and then when we do, we feel good? Maybe it’s linked with that, who knows, but that’s what I think. The build up afterwards just rocks so much, I can’t even put into words how Nick’s music is so versatile. It’s so good to hear Nick play with a band after being so used to hearing him on an acoustic guitar. Even the guitar solo is modernised with a really cool reverse style delay going on. Beautiful song.
“Tiina, two i’s… that’s how the spelling goes” definitely brings you closer to knowing what “Tiina” is like and brings us closer to this story. We’re back to politics and religion with this song. It tells a story about Nick’s best friend’s wife (born in Finland) being faced with deportation even though she’s lived in the UK for over 30 years. She’s faced with writing an 85 page document on why she should remain here… the place where she lives with her friends and family. It’s a very emotional and real song. I really like in the song we get a female talking which I can only presume is Tiina herself. It’s experimental and sad.
“So… it turns out there is a Magic Money Tree” is the beginning lyric of the next song on the album. It’s funny and strange. “Magic Money Tree” is groovy and pretty cool. It makes me feel like I’m on drugs while listening to it though. When I went to watch Nick and the Wilderness Kids on the album tour, he’d stop the song when he said “it’s for clinging onto POWER!!!” and would start laughing like a lunatic with lots of delay and reverb on his microphone. It was so effective and the studio version feels like it lacks that. I think though, it’s just another excuse to see Nick live because he’s so influenced by crazy stuff like Frank Zappa and you wouldn’t ever be bored while going to watch him. Magic Money Tree is obviously about finding money on a tree and wasting lots of the money, or in other words, how our country lost money and it turns out we have a magic money tree but only the rich use them and not us “normal” people. I don’t really show my views with politics online and offline, purely because I don’t really know enough about it all so it’s not my place to say much, but if I knew enough, I would definitely write songs about it, as it’s a way I deal with things, just like Nick does.
“We Keep Turning Right” isn’t really the strongest on the album but it’s still good. It’s groovy as all of Nick’s songs tend to be. His songs sure does make your feel tap. I think this is about the right-wing of politics and how “we keep turning right”, for example – the right parties are in power. “Have a Nice Deity” is upbeat and sounds very happy but it’s probably the worst song on the album. It’s good but it’s not quite up there as well as the other songs unfortunately. It’s the most “pop” song of the album. For a 6:36 song, it just doesn’t feel like it gets anywhere, plus I don’t know what it’s about either! The instrumentation is great though and the song itself will probably grow on me.
“Dark Forces” is a post-punk sounding song with a very indie music based theme to it. It’s negative and about dark times, obviously. Nick’s always been the type of songwriter that tells a story with his songs, that’s probably why a lot of people stick in the ‘folk’ category, but this is just another song that explains he’s not really a folk artist after all.
“Global Nation” starts off with a progressive 70’s Gentle Giant complicated sounding riff with an added harmony. This song is definitely more happy and upbeat then the last song. Global Nation is about even through hard times, our world will become better again.
Overall, this album has balls and it’s taking risks. Some people won’t like it because of how political it is. Musically, the album is amazing and lyrically too! The songs are really great. It’s so good to hear Nick playing with a band. Even though people won’t agree with what he’s saying, we can all appreciate the talent that Nick has and also the amazing backing band of his, the Wilderness Kids
Score – 9/10
Favourite Tracks: Lies! Lies! Lies!, Nobody Loves You, Leaving the Club, Black Friday, Magic Money Tree, Dark Forces, Global Nation