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Music Review - 'Rope the Wind' by Nick Justice (dm)

Nick Justice - Rope the Wind (Click to watch the video)

4 March 2021

 

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Nick Justice is a self-declared “obscure traveling troubadour.” In the earliest of times, troubadours were all obscure, and all consigned to a life in transit. Telling stories through song so that the audience could more easily remember them, troubadours brought news good and bad, tragic and triumphant, and full of fright and promise.

Rope the Wind, Justice’s newest collection of songs, contains stories set to song providing Justice’s unique vantage point of a world and human species counting each heartbeat. With every thump, there is equal measure of gratitude, love, fear, and regret.

“Run Away” tells the story of a murderous couple brought to the explosions of violence by the catalyst of their passion. The next song in the sequence, “Billy the Kid,” resurrects a familiar name and story of gunfire and assault.

Justice’s voice struggles in some of the songs, but the words he sings, the tales he tells, and the portraits he sketches with the simple but effective tools of his guitar, a small backing band, and his honest vocal delivery, leave a wound. “Love is on the Run” is a heartbreaker for those who “sleep next to a stranger.”

That is a line of characteristic Justice quality, who knows how take a crowbar into the listener’s spirit with a well-timed and worded phrase. He showcases a similar skill when he sings of “tears disappearing in the rain.”

“After We Say Goodbye” has a Latin influence, and with it a resonant sense of romantic disappointment.

Rope the Wind would benefit from more variety in tempo and musical ornamentation. The first up tempo song – an effective and funny play on nursery rhymes, “Rhymes and Reason” – is the ninth song on the record. The bending notes on an electric guitar deeply register on song six, but also make one wonder why they weren’t there before. 

Despite these minor complaints, Justice excels in leading his audience through meaningful vignettes of life. The profundity of his troubadour vision sneaks up on the listener, leaving a lasting mark, and giving plenty of inspiration for deep thought – thoughts that will remain long after Justice has moved down the road onto the next stage, prepared to break more hearts.

 

  

 David Masciotra

 

 

David Masciotra (www.davidmasciotra.com) is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 

  

 

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