Nev Cottee is one of those musicians who has played a huge role in soundtracking our lives over the last twenty years. We first became aware of Nev through Proud Mary, a band myself and my mates just simply fell in love with. I will never forget those nights in the early 2000’s driving home from festivals and gigs singing along to The Same Old Blues album. Following his time in Proud Mary, Nev has released four solo album: Stations, Strange News from the Sun, and Broken Flowers all of which showcase the song-writing talent this man has.
Following a move to Madrid Nev has taken influence from this city and released his fifth solo album, appropriately titled, Madrid. It has been released in the same week as Taylor Swift and Arctic Monkeys so we must ensure this album does not go under the radar. Music is not a competition; it is important we listen to and enjoy as much music as we can so if you do find yourself reaching for one of the big releases, please make sure you find time for Madrid as well, I promise if you do so you will be in for a real treat.
Madrid is a collection of eleven songs which showcase the art and craftsmanship of song writing. The album opens with Maps to the Stars, a brooding instrumental that is incredibly charming and captivating and will instantly make you stop and pay attention. Renunciate follows with those warm and comforting vocals that are the perfect match for the delicate acoustic guitar and soft drumming and when the backing vocals enter the mix you really will be transported to your happy place. Silver Screen has a very smooth and laid-back vibe to it, with a string arrangement that gives an added bit of drama to the song. Talking of strings, The Ring follows with some beautiful arrangements and twinkling sounds which allow the heart melting vocals to take centre stage “Like a ship out of the water / stranded on the shore/ I was looking out for freedom / when you walked through the door”. Four songs into the album, and I am sure you all agree we really are in the company of greatness. If you have ever tried to write a song you'll know it is not easy so when we get to listen to artists like Nev Cottee who manage to perfectly write tracks that enthral and leave us mesmerized by the sounds we hear, we really need to take the time to appreciate how lucky we are to have musicians like this to share our world with.
Rather than try and describe every song from this point on I will pick out a further few that stand out including Johnny Ray which is a classic example of characterisation and story telling. Johnny Ray comes alive in the song, listening to the lyrics you build up an image of what he looks like and the mysterious character within “Where he goes no one knows / always the stranger / gods lonely man / a modern day lone ranger / spends his days lost in time / he’s got no reasons / he’s got no rhyme”. After listening to this I think it is more than fair to use the word genius to describe Nev Cottee.
A Million Years has a very cheerful guitar melody that will be sure to lift your mood. There is a Richard Hawley feel to this song and that is one of the highest compliments that can be paid. Angela is a very sweet song that will soothe the soul. All’s Well That Ends Well is firstly a great title and a perfect piece of music to end a perfect album with. Listening to this piece of music will instantly see any worries you may be carrying be lifted, you won’t feel so angry with the world.
Please do not let Madrid pass you by, this is an album for anyone who loves the honesty of song-writing, loves the stories within a song, loves the way that songs can transport us to different worlds, to different times, loves an album that we can put on at the end of the day and instantly forgot any woes we may have and to escape from some of the terrible things that are going on in the world. Nev Cottee, once again, thank you for giving us all of this and more.
Madrid is released on vinyl on 28th October