One track already makes Nick Heyward's first solo LP after leaving Haircut 100
a must-hear. The breezy "Whistle Down the Wind" is among Heyward's most moving songs, a story of unrequited love with a "hello, hello, hope you're feeling fine" chorus that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Heyward sings the opening lines in a whispery tone, caressing the ears with the sweetness of his voice; when the tempo builds up, the track manages to simultaneously elevate and sadden the listener. "Whistle Down the Wind" is lush, hopelessly romantic pop that may have been too subtle for Top 40 radio in 1983. Although North of a Miracle
doesn't strike those highs again, it's still just as charming and catchy as Heyward's finest Haircut 100 work. "When It Started to Begin" sounds a lot like Haircut 100, especially the chirpy horns, but much of North of a Miracle
is more mature and introspective. "Blue Hat for a Blue Day" speaks of divorce with a deceptively cheerful beat, while the atmospheric "The Day It Rained Forever" is a wintry ballad with a palpable depth of emotion. Like the Colourfield's Virgins & Philistines
, North of a Miracle
doesn't seem like a '80s record; its apparent influences -- the Beatles
, the Walker Brothers
, jazz, R&B -- are as timeless as the album. Anybody expecting a boyish romp like Haircut 100's "Love Plus One" might be a tad startled.