Nick Drake’s “Family Tree”: Music review

“Family Tree” is a collection of recordings that predate Nick Drake’s three albums, capturing Drake in his early playing and songwriting phase, learning his craft. Given the influence of family music sessions in his formative years, the album also features family performances of classical music; duets with his sister Gabrielle; and a couple of recordings of his mother Molly Drake, sounding like a 1920s parlor musician. Drake performs folk standards – “All my trials,” with Nick and Gabrielle’s beautiful harmonies evoking early Dylan and Baez – as well as early versions of his own material, including a memorable version of “Day is Done” and a version of “Way to Blue” in which he accompanies himself on piano.
For fans of Nick Drake, this is a welcome window into his early years. For those who find Drake’s music perhaps on the sombre side, I’ll leave you with words from Gabrielle Drake in her insert booklet letter to Nick: “the power of your music to touch and comfort – particularly those who were going through similar depressions as your own.”
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