Since leaving the award winning Balsam Range in 2022, Darren Nicholson has shifted his solo career into high gear. His latest release, Wanderer, on Mountain Home Music is an eight song EP, capturing his dynamic abilities as a singer and songwriter.
Arkansas Without You is a driving song which tells a dark romantic tale. Co-written with Charles Humphrey III of Songs From The Road Band, the lyrics contain classic themes of deceit and murder, yet it’s performed with gripping freshness and originality. With Nicholson essentially serving as the narrator, his delivery of the song’s story is quite captivating. Featuring Darren on mandolin and lead vocals, this track also consists of his wife Jennifer as well as Derek Vaden on harmony vocals, Colby Laney on guitar, Zachary Smith on bass, Wes Corbett on banjo, and Billy Contreras on fiddle, who serve as the core band on this recording.
Talkin’ to the Moon co-written with Brink Brinkman is a song centered on the subject of heartache and yearning for a lost love.
Second Wind co-written with Eric Gibson, packs a lot of punch from the first note. With a strong, in your face banjo intro from Nicholson’s former Balsam Range bandmate Marc Pruett, this song tells of a man’s determination and hard work alongside of his Dad at their family’s farm.
Dillsboro Blues is an instrumental solely written by Darren. Named after a small town in Western North Carolina, this piece composed in the form of a fiddle tune captures Nicholson’s powerful mandolin style, and also features fine performances from Billy Contreras, Wes Corbett, Colby Laney, and Zachary Smith.
The final track on the project, Leave It In The Hands of the Lord, by Nicholson and Mark Bumgarner is quite literally a hand clapping gospel song with a positive message about casting all your fears and worries into the hands of our Heavenly Father. Jennifer Nicholson’s powerhouse vocals particularly stand out here.
Wanderer is a fine demonstration of Darren Nicholson’s current chapter. Based on his original material as well as the top shelf musicianship featured on this project, it’s clear that Darren has effectively carved out his artistic identity.