Darren Nicholson is a lot more than the smiling mando man you see on stage with Balsam Range. Though that is quite a lot in itself, as he also contributes mightily to the group’s vocal sound.
With his own Darren Nicholson Band he explores the bluegrass and old time styles that have been his trademark for many years in western North Carolina, and sometimes he straps on a Tele for a bit of alt-country chicken pickin’.
For his new album, Man On A Mission – due later this month on Mountain Home Music – he combines all of these elements with his own original music for what promises to be a wide ranging solo project from a talented and well-respected artist.
A debut single is available this week, a new song written by Darren with Charles Humphrey III called Love Is War. The lyrics describe a new romantic relationship like two sparring armies locked in combat, each trying to protect themselves while jabbing out at this idea of togetherness. They make it into a highly entertaining number, especially with the stark contrast of musical genres within the arrangement.
Things start out old timey with just fiddle and banjo, before launching into a rockin’ beat complete with drums, electric instruments, and keys. The clawhammer banjo and fiddle remain, and Darren’s compelling vocal will keep you engaged, even if you tend to resist this sort of hybrid sound.
Nicholson says that it’s all in good fun, even the semi-darkness of the theme.
“I look at Love Is War as a raucous, grooving kick off to the album, Man On A Mission. It just talks about kicking down the doors and the battle we go through in relationships.”
On this track, Darren plays electric mandolin and sings the lead, supported by David Johnson on guitar, banjo, and fiddle; Jeremy Medkiff on bass and electric guitar; Jeff Collins on keyboards; and Tony Creasman on drums and percussion. Audie Blaylock and Jennifer Nicholson provide harmony vocals.
Have a listen…
Man On A Mission is set for a November 26 release. Pre-orders are enabled now online. Radio programmers will find the single at AirPlay Direct.