Although its title may conjure up images of ’60s roadhouse rock n’ blues, ‘Tumblin’ Man’ is more easy listening than easy living. Often getting side-tracked by singer/songwriter-inspired ballads, Winston Nicoll‘s album opens strongly with Some People, then Whispering Blues – bringing to mind Neil Young and Cat Stevens. It’s the latter that will best evoke the spirit of Nicoll’s influences here with its funk-blues guitar and southern fried harmonica courtesy of harp man Billy Vallance. Bright Side, is just that.
There’s a strong sense of this being a personal achievement project, the recording of ‘Tumblin’ Man’ being mainly for the artist himself and those others involved. While the production and the individual skills of the musicians are high grade, Nicolls’ vocal delivery lacks range, and the songwriting in places fails to match the calibre. Recorded by engineer/guitarist (and bv provider) Arnie van Bussel, at his Nightshift Studios in Christchurch, all 12 tracks were written and arranged by Nicoll, who also plays guitars and bass. With a sizeable cast of contributing musicians it’s no wonder there’s a certain vastness to the arrangements. One can’t help feeling that this album is about getting some songs he has lived with for years down on tape – and good on him for bringing it to completion.