Reviews and quotes about Kristof’s album Nice Place
Kristof Robert’s new album is a delight. The songs are gentle and lovely and delivered in a charming French accent with some lovely guitar picking. A lovely peaceful album to listen to while travelling along, it takes us on a journey to a gentler place, interspersed with the birdsong of the sparrow and the starling. ‘Nice Place ‘ by Kristof Robert is indeed a nice place to visit and to linger awhile. I hope you enjoy this album as much as I did.
It may have taken many years to complete, but NICE PLACE, a ten-track, all-original Album by Kristof Robert has been well worth the wait ! It’s a disarming, charming and fascinating collection of Songs, all but one composed by Kristof himself, delivered, unashamedly, mostly in English, but with a mild and pleasant French accent. Sonically, this is a NICE PLACE to be!
There’s one all French Song, L’OISEAU LECTEUR, which to my [ Irish ] ears would not be out of place in any cool Music Club in France, and bucket-loads of beautifully crafted Songs of Love, Nature and Romance. Throughout this Recording there is wonderful Instrumental work on Dobro, Guitar, Upright and Electric Bass, and Acoustic Guitar, all underpinning the charming Vocals from Kristof. Gay Brazel is outstanding on Dobro, an instrument that really supports the Songs in a Melodic way ; a project which resonates with a rootsy earthiness throughout.
Standout Tracks for me, on first listen, were NICE PLACE, STARLINGS and SEARCHING. The latter bringing to mind influences by people like RY COODER and LEO KOTTKE, though still managing to sound very original. IN THE DIRT is a striking Song about the tragic loss of young life and the heartbreak of Mothers who were so poorly treated in dark times. ANOTHER MAN’S WOUND, composed by Seamus McGrath, and arranged by Kristof, has all the feel of an Anti-War Song, and NICE TO SEE YOU, is accompanied by some very deft Finger-style Guitar playing. There’s even a stand-out , straight-ahead Rock ‘n’ Roll Song called LEO’S GUITAR which nicely illustrates the versatility of the Music on this fine Album.
To top it off, the Artwork and Sleeve Notes are just stunning, and include all the Lyrics of the Songs, as well as full credits for all the contributors. As they used to say, well-worth checking out at your Local Record Store ! This is a ROOTSY, ORIGINAL GEM, and comes highly recommended by this Music Fan! Well done, to all concerned.
Kristof Robert has the bilingual soul of an artist. But in any language, these are beautiful, well crafted songs, with just the right production and sung from the heart.
A really Nice Place to spend some time away
The Last Verse: this week, ‘Nice Place’ by Kristof Robert.
It’s always nice to come across new original songwriters whose material creates an immediate impression on first listen.
So, it is with this week’s featured artist, Kristof Robert.
Now living in Carrick-on-Suir, Robert is originally from France, but has been living in Ireland for over 20 years.
His most recent release, the subject of review here, is the album ‘Nice Place’, which features 10 original tracks of pure listening pleasure.
In recording the album, Robert was joined by many friends and fellow-musicians from across the south-east, including Gay Brazel (formerly of Tweed) on ‘all kinds of sliding instruments such as electric guitars’, Mick Grace (drums/cajon), Cormac Hennessy (double-bass), Ano (backing vocals), Paddy Flynn (Glockenspiel) and French guitarist, Stephane Lefort.
The quality of the accompaniment throughout is fantastic and it’s easy to see this is a group of musicians who are at the top of their game in terms of professionalism.
The songs also benefited greatly as a result of being mixed by highly regarded engineer Alastair McMillan.
The album is an eclectic mix and ranges from laid back folk to upbeat rock and it also includes one track in Kristof’s native language.
The title track, ‘Nice Place’, gets things underway and it does so in exemplary fashion.
Robert’s English is impeccable, but the slight French twang to his voice gives the songs an added appeal and compounds the overall listening pleasure.
‘Nice Place’ is a gentle laid-back, mid-tempo ballad which benefits greatly from some lovely upright bass. If blues- influenced Americana is your thing, you’ll love this track, and as an opener for an album it’s brilliant.
The melody is gentle throughout and as the song comes to a close, Robert goes for a slightly higher register with his voice on one particular line and it’s very effective.
The album was recorded over the couple of years, but there is fluidity to the songs that is seamless, and they fit perfectly together.
Lyrically, there are a number of topics examined, ranging from daydreams, personal grief and local news to Irish history.
‘L’oiseau Lecteur’, which translates as ‘The Reading Bird’, is a lovely mid-tempo blues track that would sit comfortably on the soundtrack to a film about a cowboy drifter in the wild west.
The accompaniment is sublime, and the mix is absolutely perfect, with every note being crystal clear.
The laid-back nature of the album overall is very infectious and there is an instant appeal to the songs that many internationally established artists would struggle to match.
‘Nice To See You’ is another gentle ballad, which benefits enormously from sparse accompaniment and subtle arrangement.
There is a lovely rolling, finger-picked guitar riff underlaid by a simple, but extremely effective, bass line.
There are times when complex playing is required and other times when simple, melodic patterns are hugely beneficial, and knowing when to utilise both can make-or-break a song’s appeal.
In that regard, Kristof Robert is an exemplary songwriter and that’s highlighted perfectly on songs like this.
‘Starlings’ offers up something slightly different to the preceding tracks. It’s a country-folk number set to a fantastic brush-infused percussive accompaniment.
There is a brilliant, repetitive guitar riff and a rolling bass line that is truly mesmerising.
‘Leo’s Guitar’ takes things up a notch in tempo and offers up a country rockabilly workout that is fabulous to hear.
The guitar sound is impeccable, and the walking bass lines are perfect.
‘Another Man’s Wound’ gives plenty of food for thought and offers up some very strong lyrics: ‘Do we just mouth the words that you spoke, or endlessly boast of your deeds; but it’s easy to talk now you’re gone, or to sleep on another man’s wound.’
‘In The Dirt’ brings something new to the table, with some excellent harmony vocals that are utilised to very good effect. Most of the songs on the album, as with this one, are mid-tempo in nature but there is a melancholic quality to ‘In The Dirt’ that makes it stand out from the rest.
‘Hungry Midges’ takes things back down the country blues route and would provide perfect accompaniment to a walk through the nearest swamp.
The blues shines through loud and clear on ‘Searching’, which also features brilliant guitar effects, while the album closer, ‘The Sky is Blue’, is the ideal way to end things.
It’s a very melancholic track that immediately brings to mind images of a dimly lit backstreet Parisian bar. Given Robert’s heritage, it’s the perfect way to round off a truly brilliant album.
This album is a delightful blend of influences.’L’oiseau Lecteur’ (The Reader Bird) is sung in French, the rest of the album is sung in English, with a French accent, which somehow adds a further element of warmth to the tracks.
‘L’oiseau Lecteur’ has a relaxed Cajun-ish feel to the singing (I haven’t translated the rest of the lyrics, so I’ve no idea what it’s about, but it’s a gentle listen) though a slide guitar rather than a fiddle or accordion; ‘Nice To See You’ is even more bluesy, reminding me of the gentler feel of Mississippi John Hurt’s ‘Louis Collins’; ‘Starlings’ bops lightly along; ‘Leo’s Guitar’ is early rock’n’roll, though the French accent gives it a very different feel.
The lyric of ‘Another Man’s Wound’ hits you softly over the head – a religious lyric perhaps, but one also applicable more generally to the way we build on the sacrifices of previous generations: “you died that we’d live and be free” …. “did you fight for that freedom in vain” … “it’s easy to talk now you’re gone, or to sleep on another man’s wounds”. Rather powerful, particularly because of its softer delivery.
The remainder of the album exerts a similar pull, it’s very listenable, gently arranged and played and with some rather neat musical touches – the guitar, say, on ‘Searching’ and ‘Hungry Midges’, the harmonies on ‘In The Dirt’, and the final snuggle of ‘The Sky Is Blue’ which ends the album. If you look on Robert’s Facebook page, you’ll be introduced to each of the musicians on the album – a talented bunch.
I rather like Nice Place. I’ve noticed that I’ve used words like: delightful, warmth, gentle, even snuggle. Have a listen.
Kristof Robert is a Frenchman with a taste for the blues who now lives in Ireland. His debut album Nice Place, is surprisingly delicate with Kristof’s accent giving it a charm of its own. All but one of the songs are in English and all but one are Kristof’s own – the exception is by an Irishman.
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All Kristof's photos by Andrew O'Dwyer Photography