Have you guys ever heard of Nik Kershaw? He’s a British singer-songwriter who had a couple of minor hits over here in the 80s (though of course he was huge overseas – apparently a theme in my pop fandom), the best-known of which being a little ditty called “Wouldn’t It Be Good.” (You’d know it if you heard it.) He put out four albums during that time, and though they’re sounding a little dated production-wise around now, they still hold up remarkably well, thanks to his melodic facility, a willingness to use his chords, and a clever turn of lyrical phrase now and then. After the hits – and a couple of misses – he retreated from the spotlight, penning hits for other artists and pretty much fading into obscurity, though I believe he has a house.
Suddenly, in 1999, he started recording again. Eschewing the more keyboard-heavy, tech-dependent approach of his earlier work for a more relaxed, guitar-driven sound (he’s also a terrific player), the new songs were able to breathe more on their own, with a confident maturity reflected in the lyrics as well. (Not to mention the fact that some of his verse-to-chorus modulations have always been among the best in the biz.) It was great to rediscover one of my early songwriting influences firing on all cylinders again – in fact, stronger than ever.
His eighth collection of new tunes was just released last week. It’s called Ei8ht (see what he did there?), and I’m telling you about it because what’s left of the music business certainly won’t. But if you like my stuff, you’ll probably dig his, too. Is it his best ever? No, To Be Frank is, but good luck finding that one on disc for under $30.
And this new one is still great: bursting with the kind of smart, concise pop that New York theatre producers can never eradicate completely, no matter how hard they try. Just check out this lyric:
But if you leave me, can I come too
Can I climb aboard and ride with you
Together we’d be starting new
Without me in the way
That’s called writing, and there have to be more than two of us who go in for that sort of thing. (C’mon, kids, put some muscle into it!)
Anyway, I don’t know the guy, but I’m a huge fan, and he unwittingly helped shape me as a baby writer all those years ago, so I pass this info on to you, to do with as you see fit. In a world where competence and quality are liabilities, I’m guessing his phone’s probably not ringing off the hook – so if I can drive some of my vast readership his way…well, then, he might just make an extra dozen sales or so. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber walks the earth a free woman, or whatever he’s turning into.