Five Leaves Leftby Nick Drake
Released in 1969, when he was just 20 years old, Nick Drake's debut album reveals a singer-songwriter of stunning depth and maturity. Drake possessed a profound melancholy, however, which eventually claimed his life, and on Five Leaves Left, you can already hear the wheels of despair turning in his head. Most chilling is the song "Fruit Tree," on which the doomed singer posits this theory: "Fame is but a fruit tree/So very unsound/It can never flourish/Till its stalk is in the ground." Still, the album is buoyed by Drake's delicate guitar playing, the lush string arrangements, and the sheer beauty of songs like "The Thoughts of Mary Jane," "Way to Blue," "River Man," and "Day Is Done." Five Leaves Left is unassuming, yet quietly intense -- a classic that went largely unrecognized until years after Drake himself was gone.
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Performance CreditsNick Drake Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Richard Thompson Guitar,Electric Guitar
Kwasi "Rocky" Dzidzornu Percussion,Conga
Tristan Fry Drums,Background Vocals,Vibes
Paul Harris Piano
Clare Lowther Cello
Danny Thompson Bass
Technical CreditsJohn Wood Engineer
Joe Boyd Producer,Re-Release Producer
Robert Kirby Arranger,String Arrangements,Bass Arrangement
Harry Robinson Arranger
Cally Art Direction
Stella MacPherson Lyric Transcription
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Magic. That's just, this whole album. I've never heard a singer/songwriter actually PLAY guitar so well! Granted, I'm only just getting into the genre, but still. I was blown away. And it's so clear to hear Nick Drake's influence among other acoustic artists of today, including John Mayer. Just a beautiful album, it has it's ups and downs. The lyrics are amazing, and the orchestral arrangements make this album all the more perfect. I highly recommend this.
A slightly more melancholy album than his later efforts, Five Leaves sees Nick Drake coming into the musical universe fully clothed and with a head of hair. Not many debut albums are this good, it often makes me laugh when I see new singer songwriters' albums with labels such as "outstanding debut" on them. There are very seldom artists with such a well developed vision of music and lyrics. Tracks like Fruit Tree capture that matured spirit in full flower. Robert Kirby, a good friend of Drake's was drafted in to arrange the strings and his arrangements on Way To Blue and Fruit Tree are some of the best. Other musicians work very well along with Drake on the album, and the album is brilliantly multi faceted. My personal favourite song is River Man, the lyrics juxtapose the confusion and understanding of three charachters, each with their own longings and lives. The string orchestration works very well, almost to a magical degree when Drake sings "Betty said she prayed today, for the sky to blow away". Five Leaves is somewhat essential and like Nick Drake, overlooked. Buy this album, or you will never know what you've missed.