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Five Leaves Left

May 6, 2003

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: June 26, 2000
  • Release Date: June 26, 2000
  • Label: Island Records
  • Copyright: (C) 1970 Island Records Ltd.
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 41:07
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B000W1AOHG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,852 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

The lyrics are great, the music is simple yet elegant.
Matt
Man in a Shed is a simple unrequited love song, and Fruit Tree is a brooding, almost prophetic (in Nick's case) song about post-humous fame.
"eurotrashgirl"
'Man in a Shed' is one of the most buoyant love songs I've ever heard.
"bluesox@earthlink.net"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Brennan VINE VOICE on May 7, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When my good friend Phil recommended this CD to me, he helpfully provided a product advisory. "I'm warning you," Phil emailed. "It's really melancholy stuff, so make sure you don't have any sharp objects lying around when you listen to it."

Like any good Irishman, I love mournful music, and I have a particular weakness for suicidal musicians, especially the ones that died too early to suck. So Phil's words of warning were like catnip to me. Move over Joy Division, Nirvana, and Elliott Smith; make room in the Case Logic for some Nick Drake.

I soon found that Phil was right--and wrong.

On one hand, "Five Leaves Left" feels like the saddest CD ever recorded. You can't fake these emotions; every poignant lyric, every aching guitar chord, and every weeping cello proclaim that this is the voice of a troubled and self-critical soul. Nick Drake died of an overdose at the age of 26; oddly enough, of his three albums, this first one sounds most like a suicide note.

Granted, there's some debate among his fans as to whether his death was indeed a suicide, whether the overdose was accidental or deliberate. On one hand, he OD'd on antidepressants, even though barbituates were available, and he didn't leave a note. On the other hand, he'd already written "Fruit Tree."

Has any musician penned a more convincing suicide note? I doubt it. "Safe in your place deep in the earth/That's when they'll know what you were truly worth." I'm sorry, Ian Curtis--"Closer" may come close, but nothing's more depressing than that. And unlike, say, Elliott Smith, whose pop sensibilities often contrasted his morbid lyrics, every note of this song amplifies its mournfulness.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By spiral_mind on September 4, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Whether you know it or not, you've heard Nick Drake before. Maybe it's from his other albums, maybe it's from that VW commercial, maybe it's just the sound of that quiet bleakness we all feel when sadness comes to the door and doesn't want to leave. This music lives with all of us. It exists in quiet lonely nights, chilly autumn evenings, and the muted grey of the world when it's been raining all day. During his too-short musical career, Nick used music to look at those little feelings we all have and give them an exquisitely beautiful voice.
Ok, fine, I'll start talking like a normal person now. I realize those comments seem a little silly. It's easy enough to describe how this music sounds, but it's not as easy to convey the emotional impact it might have. Everything about this 40-minute jewel is beautifully composed, elegantly performed and topped off with Nick's simple understated lyrics, which read as well as poetry. His voice and guitar (pretty tricky guitar work, too) are backed up by changing accompaniments: some electric guitar and bass at times, some flute, some quiet conga percussion at others, and most often a smooth string section providing just the right bittersweet background. It's quiet folk melancholy with an addicting quality that can't really be explained. Not everything here is quite as sad as "Way to Blue" or the eerily prophetic "Fruit Tree," either. "Saturday Sun" adds some relatively upbeat jazzy piano, although it remains low-key to the end. "Time Has Told Me" is uplifting in its timeless simplicity. "Man in a Shed" is a wistful boy-girl tune, but the theme is as un-cliched and downright humble as I've ever heard it.
Five Leaves Left was Nick's first album, and overall the most realized - he took over a year putting it together after all.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "bluesox@earthlink.net" on June 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Before reading an article on Nick Drake in Entertainment Weekly I'd never heard of him or his music. The article praised his brilliant musical talent and I was intrigued enough by the album synopses to by a CD. When I first listened to 'Five Leaves Left' I wasn't swept away. But something about it made me immediately listen to it a second time. Upon listening to it again I disovered depths to it that I didn't catch the first time. And each subsequent listening has revealed more and more depth. 'Man in a Shed' is one of the most buoyant love songs I've ever heard. The lively guitar picking is remarkable. 'Saturday Sun' perfectly captures the mood of waking up slowly on Saturday morning.
Sure, there are other artists who have silken voices and beautiful guitar playing but Nick Drake has something more. Maybe it's the melancholy, maybe it's the brief moments of optimism, but something about his music pulls you in and makes it hard for you to want to leave. It's a shame that his music wasn't really appreciated in his time but sometimes it takes a distance of years for a genius to really receive his due.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is the Nick Drake album I find myself listening to the most. Although I think Pink Moon is probably one of the greatest records of all time and endlessly fascinating it can be a hard listen emotionally. Five Leaves Left is an extremely accomplished debut and is the one record that best represents who Nick Drake was and why he is so revered. Every song on here is wonderful and the instrumentation perfectly matches Nick's quiet vocal style. How can you really describe this record? If you've heard this record you will know what I mean. There is a quiet strength to his music that at first listen can almost seem anemic. This understated quality is so rare with music today. He is not screaming for the listener's attention but rather inviting you into a world of his own. And once you have entered this world that he has created it is truly seeing the power of music.
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