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Reviews for "Tiny Wings"
Singer-songwriters are sometimes referred to as a dying breed in today's music industry. This may be attributed to the high-speed technology that drives much of the music we hear today - with artists writing songs on their MacBooks, uploading them to Soundcloud all while touring rigorously.
Iowa City musician Nic Arp, however, says he is more concerned with quality over quantity, and the output from his two releases - spaced apart by seven years - defends this claim.
Arp's 2013 'Tiny Wings' is a slow-driving record. Attention to detail pays off in a universally satisfying experience. Carefully weaving several genres together, Arp blends sounds borrowed from blues, country and Americana to build upon observant lyrics that often come from the perspective of an outsider.
Much more than a simple guitar-driven album, several unexpected elements appear throughout, such as the subtle strings on the title track that beautifully accompany Arp's quiet vocal delivery.
Another instrumental supplement includes a hollow harmonica, most prominent on 'Deep Freeze' and 'Good Guy,' that complements the collective. However, that's not to say the album does not contain it's fair share of blues-driven licks from the guitar. Arp shines most when attention is transferred toward the six-string. Using several different sounds and pedals, each track's guitar sounds fresh and remains the highlight of most of the album.
The album closes with the slow-building ballad, 'Locomotive,' which sways from beat to beat, begging listeners to march down the street to the inflections of Arp's sharp-hinged vocals. It serves as a fitting goodbye, one whose simple vocals remain in the listeners' mind even after its conclusion.
With two records to his name, Arp has firmly established himself as a provider of classic, well-executed blues rock, with a perfect balance between familiar sounds and personalized touches.
- Brian Tremml, The Gazette 1/2/14 http://bit.ly/19EW6Vn
It’s hard to define an Iowa sound exactly, but Nic Arp has it, inexactly: not quite country music, but folksy; not exactly rock & roll, but with the occasional snarly electric guitar line. I hear echoes of 1970s Iowa folk artists like Bonnie Koloc and Freeman and Lange, but Arp has an unusual voice, with some of Elvis Costello’s timbral quirks–he goes from growly to nasal in two syllables.
The band Arp has assembled for Tiny Wings, as recorded by John Svec, serve his songs well. Tara McGovern’s violin on the song “Tiny Wings” underscore his melodies, swelling in the space between words. The more rocking songs, like “One Simple Song,” have a propulsive drive to them, bringing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to mind.
Arp delivers his lyrics with confidence and relaxed phrasing. He can be clever, as on “Your Mind Is On Vacation” when he sings “If silence is golden, your voice could raise the dying.” But the cleverness seems rather shallow. He can write a good melody, and he has the voice to execute pretty much any sentiment, but he seems to shy away from anything too emotionally raw.
I should maybe give him a pass, though, as the reason I notice Arp’s lyrics at all is because his diction is impeccable. A lot of singers will mumble, or push their singing down in the mix, and if the music is compelling, it doesn’t matter what they’re saying at all. Arp’s singing is the opposite of that. I want him to dig deeper for the emotion and meaning I know he is capable of conveying as a composer and singer. Tiny Wings deserves an audience; anyone who enjoys singers like Greg Brown or Sam Knutson will find plenty to like here. And, like his song title says, “he’s a good guy.” That, and his talent as a singer, make this album a satisfying listen.
Kent Williams, Little Village 9/24/13 http://littlevillagemag.com/album-review-nic-arp-tiny-wings/
Reviews for "Faces & Words"
For whatever reason(s), Iowa City-based singer/songwriter Nic Arp has maintained a fairly low profile on the area club scene thus far, but with his solo debut, "Faces & Words," he makes a solid case for a serious increase in stage time.
Crisply recorded at Minstrel Studios by Justin Kennedy, the disc presents nine original tunes (plus a wonderfully spirited rendition of the vintage chestnut, "That Lucky Old Sun").
Primarily fueled by the artist's strong, agreeably raspy tenor vocals and solid acoustic guitar playing, Arp's songs effectively straddle traditional and contemporary folk/blues styles, adroitly shifting tempo throughout to keep the set moving and fresh.
The arrangements are almost living-room spare, with well-placed accompaniment added by Tara Dutcher (exquisite violin embroidery and vocal harmonies), José Manaligod (accordion), and Brad Pouleson (mandolin, uillean pipes) -- all of The Beggarmen -- and The Tornadoes' Jim Rossen (harmonica and bongos).
Likewise, the tales told are mostly humble, everyday observations (like the wistful, gorgeous "The Things We Never Say") that ring true, organic, unforced, and -- through it all -- Arp's voice wraps each of these sharply drawn miniatures like a favorite shirt.
--Jim Musser Iowa City Press-Citizen 1-26-06
* * * (Three Stars)
This Iowa City singer-songwriter's debut album roams among folk, bluegrass and, say, Cat Stevens.
Start with the fierce mix of vocals, mandolin and harmonica in "Broken Heartland."
--Kyle Munson Des Moines Register 1-19-06
I.C.’s Arp shows potential on debut
Singer-songwriters always seem to include at least one cover song on their debut album.
This frequently is a mistake, since they usually select an impeccably written classic that makes their original work sound somewhat clunky by
Iowa City singer-songwriter Nic Arp manages to avoid this trap on his debut, ‘‘Faces & Words,’’ even though he covers Haven Gillespie and Beasley Smith’s ‘‘That Lucky Old Sun’’ near the end of the album.
In an interesting twist of CD sequencing, the cover seems to inspire Arp to greater levels of songwriting for the album’s final two songs.
With a voice like a rough-and-tumble Randy Newman and thick acoustic backing by members of local bands the Beggarmen and the Tornadoes, Arp swings through ‘‘That Lucky Old Sun’’ with more confidence than he shows on the album’s earlier tracks.
That confidence continues on the album’s final two songs, ‘‘Locomotive’’ and ‘‘#9,’’ which showcase Arp at his blues-country best.
‘‘Take me up to Iowa City/So’s I could get my baby back,’’ Arp bellows at the end of ‘‘#9,’’ giving the song the potential to be a local anthem of sorts.
‘‘Faces & Words’’ is an uneven album, but Arp is a powerful new voice when he puts everything together.
--Eric Clark Cedar Rapids Gazette 1-26-06