Franz Nicolay: Luck and Courage
Franz Nicolay is no stranger to productivity. A member of several active bands or collectives, including a stint playing keyboards with The Hold Steady, Nicolay also acts as a session musician and has published a collection of short stories. While all of that work could easily distract from his other work as a solo musician, it instead keeps him in constant creative practice.
A gifted musician, Nicolay brings his talent for playing and writing together on Luck and Courage, a fun little album with enough tones to keep your ears constantly wondering what instrument might make a cameo next. From indie rock to the folk sounds of some unfamiliar land, Nicolay seems as at home with a standard band setup as he is with the accordion. “Have Mercy” switches effortlessly between crashing cymbals, clashing guitars, frenetic violin, squalling horns, and a grim choir. Cleverly referencing a Magritte painting, “This Is Not a Pipe” is a delicate banjo tune that analyzes the skepticism of modern life. “The Last Words of Gene Autry” shows that Nicolay can hold his own with minimal accompaniment, as piano and a bit of percussion back his expressive voice.
Luck and Courage is definitely an album that ought to be talked about and that deserves just as much attention as The Hold Steady.