It’s a real pleasure to hear Nettlesmith’s collection of songs that are unafraid to serve themselves up without unnecessary ornamentation & production adornment. This encourages listener focus on the lyrics and gives the songs the room they deserve to breathe sonically. Delicate acoustic guitar arpeggios and mandolin chords carry the songs with Jim’s tasteful electric guitar tremolo & e-bow textures (similar in tone to flute or reed instruments) providing tasteful support.
Tim’s rather excellent vocals dance a rare balance between a tough, heartfelt, raspy delivery and a delicate vulnerability – this is especially apparent on the superb ‘Fall of Trees’ with its aching sense of loss. ‘Willowman’ has a dark brooding atmosphere & melancholic vocals, with even a hint of Joni Mitchell detected in the vocal vibrato. The album’s centrepiece for me is the bare and angry title track ‘Cookin’ in Satan’s Kitchen’, with it’s lonely dustbowl Bluegrass mandolin punctuated by an earthy & dark electric guitar. It’s here that Tim serves up the album’s most defiant and powerful performance vocally, with eerie backing vocals providing an ominous counterpoint.
All in all an impressive debut from Nettlesmith, with finely crafted songs that channel American & English Folk influences but have a nuance that’s all their own.
Mitch Keen TheGigRig