Night Moves - Black Lead Records - 5 October 2018
Night Walks is the brand new glittering, nocturnal album from Sarah Nixey. Written whilst struggling with insomnia, the songs are set in a metropolitan sub-world where everyone dodges the dangers of reality. The lyrics describe episodes that take place over one night, spanning several decades, in a tiny enclave, at the heart of London's bohemia. Night Walks is a modern, sophisticated album, rooted in classic record making.
Nixey won over audiences as the singer of darkly glamorous pop group Black Box Recorder at the turn of the 21st Century, along with fellow band members Luke Haines (The Auteurs) and John Moore (The Jesus and Mary Chain). The band just released a box set of all three albums called Life Is Unfair via One Little Indian.
Since then, Nixey has honed her own musical voice with an eclectic solo career. Night Walks arrives seven years since her second solo album Brave Tin Soldiers, which was described by The Independent as “a thing of subtle gorgeousness,” and Uncut called it an “understated triumph.” Her debut solo album Sing, Memory, from 2007, was praised by CD UK who said; “In a time before Alison Goldfrapp and perhaps Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sarah Nixey was the closest thing you’d get to royalty in the charts.”
For this new album, Nixey made a conscious decision to move away from her previous solo work by not focusing solely on electro pop or the live instrumentation approach. This time, she wanted to use a blend of electronica and classic 1970s analogue recording.
A few years ago, Nixey had just started writing and recording again at her home studio, after taking a break from music to have her third child, but was forced to stop when she became ill. She had entered a long phase of insomnia, which no doubt contributed to her illness, and this sleeplessness continued during her recovery period. In 2016, she began writing songs again, during the early hours of the morning. As Nixey explains; “I discovered that the best time to write songs was in the middle of the night, and without any interruptions, I also recorded the demo tracks then too.” Her writer/producer husband Jimmy Hogarth then offered to help record the songs in the studios they own and run in North West London.
The songs in Night Walks, like Nixey's previous solo albums, are full of characters who are often either hanging on or slipping away. She explores themes such as mental health illness (“Coming Up For Air” talks of teenage mental health illness and parental love - as Sarah notes it’s “the antithesis of Black Box Recorder’s Child Psychology”, and “Burning Bridges”), England at war (“The Zeppelin” – set in war torn England with Queen of Bohemia Nina Hamnett watching a Zeppelin go up in flames, along with the love of her life, and “Merry England” about post-war slum clearances and lose of community) and night time adventures with mid twentieth century London bohemians (“Tiger Woman”, “Neon Moon” and “Follow Me” – about the allure of nightlife and drunken escapism).
With whip smart lyrics and an ear for an adventurous avant-pop tune, it’s Sarah’s captivating voice that truly mesmerises. Alternating between a soft whisper, rhythmic talking and full-blown soprano, she manages to encapsulate inky dark nights bathed in a neon-glow, full of desperation, mystery and passion.