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Music Review - `Rope the Wind` by Nick Justice (lz)

Nick Justice -- Rope the Wind   (click on image to watch )

 14 April 2021

 

Black

If Nick Justice’s career has found him lurking below the radar, it’s only because he’s the one that initially put the brakes on. Weaned on the Southern California sound — as represented by the Eagles, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jackson Browne — he was lured to the Golden State in the late ‘80s and became a journeyman of sorts — busking, paying his dues  in various itinerate ensembles and playing for whoever would listen. Eventually he worked his way up to the status  of an opening act, serving a support role to number of important outfits — X, the Blasters, the Radiators, the Del Fuegos and other ‘80s and ‘90s scene-setters

Nevertheless, Justice eventually came to the conclusion that the music biz wasn’t exactly his cup of tea, and in 1996 he took a hiatus to get married and tend to his family. Nearly 20 years later he reemerged, became reacquainted with his muse, gathered an all-star list of support musicians —  multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz, guitarist Bobby Cochran, former Jools Holland guitarist Richard Bredice, keyboard player Dave Witham, and former Funky Kings drummer Frank Cotinola, among them — and released his first album, aptly titled The Cry of the Street Prophet. That was followed two years later by his sophomore set Between a Laugh and a Tear, which found him recruiting the same personnel that shared studio time on his debut. 

He’s released two more albums since then — Get the Dance At Dawn and The Road Not Taken — but his current offering, Rope the Wind, may offer his best chance yet to get the belated attention he so decidedly deserves. A collection of low-key cowboy ballads and forlorn laments, it’s a decidedly unassuming effort, marked by simple, straight-forward arrangements courtesy of Justice and a pair of accomplished collaborators — Richard Bredice reprising his role on guitars, banjo, backing vocals and keyboards, and Richard Stekol doubling down on guitars, bass, drums, mandolin and harmonies. The supple sound suits the songs well, whether it’s the mournful strains of “After We Say Goodbye, the folk-like flourish of “Run Away,” the uptempo flourish that adds impetus to “Rhymes and Reasons,” the rugged wild west narrative that touts the story of  “Billy the Kid,” or the solid and sturdy title track. 

Credit Justice with a knack for sharing a kind of breezy balladry — note the resemblance to Johnny Cash on opening track “Traveling Man” —  and while his is a generally unassuming sound, the music is still seeped in sentiment and an easy, affable embrace. So while Rope the Wind doesn’t necessarily muster anything akin to a gale force frenzy, it’s a brisk and breezy encounter regardless. 

 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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