Recording information: Coventry, UK (10/2012/05/2016); Gabriola Island, BC (10/2012/05/2016); Los Angeles, CA (10/2012/05/2016); Vancouver, BC (10/2012/05/2016).
Photographer: Leo Garca.
After a couple of brilliant albums that established Nicholas Krgovich's R&B crooner bona fides once and for all, 2017's In an Open Field finds the talented singer/songwriter/composer trying something new and just as impressive. Krgovich and a large cast of friends and collaborators add some easy pop smoothness and West Coast soft rock mellowness to the songs, giving them a richly hued lushness that slowly drifts out of the speakers like clouds across a midday sky. With pedal steel player B.J. Cole on hand, along with a plethora of vocalists (including Angel Deradoorian and Nedelle Torrisi) to back Krgovich in fine Free Design style, and a band able to call up late-night R&B and cosmic country with the same ease, the record is likely the best-sounding thing Krgovich has done in a long career of great-sounding records. It's easy to sink into the warmly enveloping sounds; there are no sharp edges anywhere on In an Open Field. Indeed, it might be a little too easy to shift the music to the background and maybe even take it for granted at first. It takes a couple of listens before the songs really start to kick in emotionally or stand out as individual tracks instead of one giant ball of worn-in softness. Once they do, though, they really connect. There may not be any songs quite as hooky as his best work with No Kids or anything as epic as his songs about Hollywood on On Sunset, but it might be his strongest overall collection of songs. The melodies, words, sounds, and voices (especially Krgovich's, which has never sounded better) combine in formations of heartbreaking beauty, sometimes in ways familiar to followers of his work, like on the mildly percolating "A Day in October," and sometimes in ways that seem like a new hybrid style, like on gently strumming "Do It Again" or the lazy "My Riverboat," which sounds like a less self-satisfied version of Randy Newman with the Roches singing harmony. Either way, it makes for an album that works on a variety of levels and will surely satisfy people who have been following the contours of Krgovich's always interesting career. The soft rock/cosmic country angle of In an Open Field is another chapter that further cements his mastery as a singer, composer, and producer. ~ Tim Sendra