Best Jon Boats

Heather Nova ~ 300 Days at Sea (new)

by Ent. One Music (Pop Music)

Personnel: Heather Nova (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano); David Ayers (guitar, electric guitar); Geoff Dugmore (drums).Audio Mixer: Felix Tod. Photographer: Sacha Blackburne. With a nautical theme that extends far beyond its title and small fishing boat cover art, Heather Nova's eighth studio album, 300 Days at Sea, sees the Bermudian singer/songwriter reflecting on her oceanic upbringing, inspired by a recent trip through the reefs of her homeland to witness the wreckage of her family's yacht, Moon. This emotive journey forms the basis of the suitably mournful piano/violin ballad "The Good Ship, Moon" and the chiming pop/rock of "Turn the Compass Round" (a fisherman fan of Nova managed to retrieve the compass from the sunken yacht), but despite the poignancy of its back-story, the follow-up to 2008's stripped-back The Jasmine Flower is perhaps her most upbeat album in over a decade. The album reunites Nova with David Ayers, guitarist from 1994's Oyster (widely regarded as her career best), alongside husband producer Felix Tod, and the majority of its 12 tracks feature a more expansive, fuller band sound, as on the dirty basslines and angular hooks of the slightly menacing "Save a Little Piece of Tomorrow," the driving AOR of "Beautiful Ride" and "Stop the Fire," and the pounding folk-pop of "I'd Rather Be." Occasionally, she attempts to replicate the sounds of her '90s heyday, as on the kooky stream of consciousness of "Do Something That Scares You," which attempts to compete with Alanis in the dictionary-swallowing stakes before ending in a flurry of distorted shoegazing riffs, and the Celtic-tinged closer "Stay" and the bluesy "Burning to Love," both of which are the kind of navel-gazing ballads that saw her become a staple on Dawson's Creek soundtracks. But apart from a few unnecessary retreads of days gone by, 300 Days at Sea is a genuinely touching and surprisingly radio-friendly record that suggests the spirit of the ocean has reinvigorated Nova's underrated talents. ~ Jon O'Brien
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