When I was asked to review an album by Dale Nickey, I’ll be quite honest when I say I was unfamiliar. There’s no backlog to review here, no hype, just this simple, unassuming album from 2001 entitled Time Takes No Prisoners. On its cover is a colorful sketch of two human figures. The words “Dale Nickey” are written at the bottom. No frills, no fanfare, but what lies inside?
The album starts out with Sleeping…, drums by Cyril Atef and soothing viola work from Novi draw you in to what turns out to be quite aptly named. This song is made sleepy by the syrupy smooth vocals of Dale Nickey. The longest song on the album sets the tone for a delightfully dreary piece of art. This song reminds me of a rainy day, but not in a bad way. The percussion on this track is like a warm fire kindling nearby and a good book in your hand on the rainy day created by its vocals.
Last Lonely Eagle is immediately very bluesy. I feel like I’m in a jazz club dressed in black and listening to some beat poet draw the room in. I can’t help but to liken his vocals to that of a Randy Newman or perhaps a Levon Helm of The Band. Nickey’s vocals are accented by the backing vocals and scat work of Julie Griffin. Congas by Emmitt Sharon definitely provide a rolling beat behind the jazzy bass line by Dale Nickey. I found myself bobbing my head to the rhythm.
I felt like I stepped into the deep south when I first heard the strums on Stained Glass Heart. I felt like I was in a Mark Twain novel as Dale Nickey sang about summer days and lemonade stands, overalls and other pictures the make the collage of someone on a raft adrift in Tennessee. This song felt more like the latest album from Maylene and The Sons of Disaster than I care to admit. Though that’s not a slight on either artist, it means that the musical styles of Dale Nickey and Maylene of the Sons of Disaster was once so vastly different, that my disappointment with the change to a more radio friendly direction from Dallas Taylor and his boys, that I just had to point out how eerily similar they come to something from a decidedly different kind of artist. Don’t worry if you have no idea what I’m talking about, that was more of a vent for myself than anything else.
I will say this about Dale Nickey’s music: he has great intros to his songs that draw you in. This rings true in the fourth song, Factory Floor, which speaks of lost love, it seems. I was a bit surprised by the lyric, “In the dark and useless night, when he’s deep inside you, close your eyes and imagine it is me.” It’s a clever lyric that denotes the jilted lover’s new love could never compare. This song reminds me of Wilco a little. The Darth Vader-esque breathing in the background is an interesting touch that adds to the song. Cool outro too.
Sensitive Mind is a little angsty. I comes off as someone who’s had enough of being a doormat and frustrated with life just a little bit, but in the end, he knows he is. This song is a little ditty that says a lot; it says that Dale Nickey’s been at this game for a long time, he still hasn’t reached a high level of success, and it’s frustrating, but ultimately, he’s content where he is.
And then there’s Lynnssong, which was written about his ex-wife. The song opens with the sound of rushing water. You can almost feel the anger in the lyrics, “I told you I’d write a song for you, now I guess this one will have to do. Waking breath begets ungrateful sides. Nice to know that we still try.” Anyone can relate to giving everything you’ve got to a person in a relationship and receiving much less in return. In the end, the analogy of a tree he’s painted, with roots so deep, becomes another casualty of deforestation, metaphorically, of course.
Sadness in Your Smile is a rich song, helped along by piano work by Dale Nickey and the pleasant backing vocals by Julie Griffin. The viola work by Novi also adds a nice touch to the richness of the music. This song feels like a dream, floating on a cloud. Of course, the cloud is making rain, because the song is sad. Favorite lyric: “Love can heal your soul, or love can steal you blind, love can let you know or make you lose your mind.”
The final track on the album is the title track, Time Takes No Prisoners. It’s an upbeat, fun song that reminds be a bit of Jessica by The Allman Brothers Band. I also hear a little bit of Pinball Wizard by The Who, a little bit. The lyrics just focus on the nature of time and how we need to make the most of it because we only have so much. It’s a simple concept and the song it filled with plenty of beautiful instrumentals to compliment its contemplative vocals.
If you’re in the mood for something different, check out Dale Nickey’s Time Takes No Prisoners. Dale is a great songwriter and musician.
As always, I urge you, support independent artists!
You can buy Dale Nickey’s Time Takes No Prisoners here.