Ashton Nyte – The Valley

2008-12-22 10:57
The Valley
Ashton Nyte – self-described as having a "somewhat legendary career as enigmatic frontman" for goth rockers The Awakening – has released a new solo album. It's a collection of the kind of country-inflected tunes you'd expect from a hard-drinkin', heart-breakin', down-South barroom crooner. But from a boykie from Joburg? Sure, why not. The songs are produced with skill and Nyte's throaty growl does the material justice, but in a genre that demands nothing but the truth, it’s going to be tough to pull off unless you’re the missing twin of Jim White. Damned if Ashton Nyte doesn't give it his best shot though.

Most of the tunes are the perfect soundtrack to drowning your sorrows in a bottle of Jack. It's a mixed bag of acoustic-sounding songs that tend towards the sombre side of the scale – Ashton Nyte is clearly a man who takes himself very seriously. When he nails it, the results are top-notch – the Leonard Cohen-esque "Pale Horse" and "Dead Man's Road" stand out. Others feel like re-workings of the same song and don't do much to expand the repertoire. But it's the kind of album that grows on you with successive listenings, and definitely has a place in the quiet dark hours of the night.

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with Nyte taking his cues from Nick Cave, it would be great to see him put his skills to developing a more original sound. When the music is a solid rendition of American, it comes across more like homage than honesty.

Growly countrified tunes from a semi-famous Seffrican goth? Does it work? Well, yes – if you suspend your disbelief for a second.

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