These would be some pretty heavy stories to tell a kid at bedtime. Graham Nicholas’ follow-up to the wonderful, emotionally raw Bury Me Beneath the Dance Floor is an EP with equally raw honesty but with simpler arrangements.
In this case, every song is serviced simply by Nicholas playing acoustic guitar and vocals, with harmonies sung by Raven Shields of Dear Sister. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Aaron Comeau produced the album—he seems to be present on every good country/folk recording in the Toronto area.
“Ruby” is the opening song for the EP, hence the title, and it continues Nicholas’ apparent fascination with writing about death in songs. The first line or two mention three bullets being fired from a chamber of a gun. Despite the grim subject matter, the song again functions as an emotional ballad and doesn’t come across as depressingly melancholy as songs about death usually do.
“Home Seems To Run” is slightly warmer with its guitar chords, with very descriptive lyrics chronicling a home. It’s also got a great pair of lines: “A tree can only grow until the sun refuse to shine/When your tear turns to a rose I’ll pluck the sadness from your eye.”
“If You Lived Here (You’d Be Homeless By Now)” starts out with a pretty great metaphor: “I’ll pluck these heartstrings of mine and I’ll cry out the blues.” A guitar is rarely described in such a pretty way.
“Penny,” meanwhile, is certainly the most upbeat “bedtime story,” and is closest the EP gets to a hoedown. The particular “oo-oo-oo’s” from Shields add a light-hearted element to the EP that hadn’t existed until then.
Finally there’s “Wandering Angel,” another song that starts off with a punchy first line. “He’s a straight shooter and I guess that makes you a son of a gun,” Nicholas begins the ballad. It’s another slightly melancholy song that neatly bookends the album along with “Ruby.”
Ruby, and Other Bedtime Stories will be available on Graham Nicholas’ Bandcamp soon. Nicholas will also be holding a CD release show in Toronto on January 30 at the Tranzac alongside Matthew Bailey.
Top Track: “Penny”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really G00d)