Album Review: The Sad Song Co. – Worth (2018 LP)

If you look in the dictionary for the definition of multi-talented I’m not entirely certain you wouldn’t see a picture of Nigel Powell smiling back at you.  For the uninitiated, Nigel is the powerhouse drummer in The Sleeping Souls, the relentlessly touring (and recording) band for Frank Turner. He’s also from Dive Dive, and the Unbelievable Truth.  On top of all that he’s also The Sad Song Co. and he’s just about to release album number four, Worth.

Not one to underachieve, Powell is producer, songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and also had a hand in mixing the album at home, though it has primarily been mixed by Grammy-award winning Chris Kasych. It’s not strictly a one-man show, of course, with a hugely talented bunch of folk contributing to the album, including Jason Moulster on bass and Ryan Robertson on guitar, with Chris T-T sharing writing credits on “The Body Beautiful” and “Lonely Is A State of Mind”.  
The follow-up to the haunting in amber, Worth is much more of a personal journey, focusing on the worth in risk, friendship, relationships, and self. Featuring some songs about a past relationship it’s a far more intimate glimpse into the inner workings of the songwriter.

Backing vocals on the highlight “Worth My Bones” feature quite the pool of singers – Billy Petting (Billy the Kid), Kat Jones, Max Kerman from Arkells, and Frank Turner.  The layers of the vocals are stunning, and I’ve found myself listening to this over and over, each time tracking the path of each voice, and it’s an all-embracing delight.

“Einmal ist Keinmal” is another standout in a bunch of already excellent songs. Loosely translated as “once doesn’t matter”, its lyrics, “You should not have come around, the world won’t hear us just this once,” suggest a hint of regret at something that shouldn’t have happened or, perhaps, something that was not ultimately a good thing. It weaves itself into your consciousness through deliciously ethereal vocals over an hypnotic drum track. Heavenly.

Worth isn’t a comfortable listen, but only in as much as there’s so many tempo and vocal shifts that you can’t allow yourself to become complacent as a listener. This is an album to be savoured, by allowing yourself to immerse yourself in the ebbs and flows, following it to wherever it leads.

Review Score: 9.6 out of 10. 

Worth is out on February 9. Currently available for pre-order through The Sad Song Co.

Photo: Ben Morse.