Nick Driver - 'The Drunken Buddhist'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Nick Driver, an independent singer songwriter hailing from North Carolina who has recently released his latest studio endeavor, a record entitled ‘The Drunken Buddhist.’ Having previously scored himself a highly coveted John Lennon International Songwriting Award, Driver sets the bar quite high for his efforts, and fortunately, this new collection of songs reaches it with ease.

The introduction to ‘The Drunken Buddhist’ sets the tone beautifully for the record, with the album’s other two collaborators, the bassist and the engineer, disowning themselves from the effort while an announcer muses about the difficulties of obtaining prescription drugs. It prepares the listener for the most rambling, bizarre journey through cocky lyricism and punchy, infectiously ridiculous hooks.

‘I’m Gonna Party’ pokes fun at stereotypical pop tunes, gloating about getting “white boy wasted” and hammering drugs and booze until the sun comes up. “It’s gonna be a great day when Chick-fil-A doesn’t hate on the gays,” Driver sings. “If you don’t like this song, then you’re a devil worshiping racist.” Driver leans into the insanity of his blunt lyrical style, and it’s simply splendid.

‘Little Bitches’ fires shots across the bow at guys who blast Taylor Swift in their Prius, watch Lifetime movies, and covet ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.’ This is coupled with bubblegum pop style production, which of course, just furthers the joke even further. ‘The Not So Noble Truths Voicemails Interlude’ then follows, a bunch of disjointed, but hilarious voicemails strung together in an incoherent mess.

‘The Devil May Care,’ surprisingly, is a thoughtful, melancholy exploration of Driver’s internal strife in the wake of failed relationships. It’s a poignant track which gives the album quite a bit of depth when placed right next to tunes like ‘Little Bitches’ and ‘I’m Gonna Party.’ That sincerity is short-lived, however, because ‘Don’t Spit In My Food’ follows, a brilliant disaster where Driver tries to make a Tinder date a housewife of sorts after he’s been catfished.

The folk-inspired ‘Checking My Phone’ is a fantastic break-up tune, one that’s lovely in its frank realism. Break-up songs have a tendency to meander and dramatize reality. That’s not the case here, and I adore that. For some reason, a Hindi-inspired Bhava interlude then follows. So, yeah. There’s that.

The final song ‘The World Could Use a Little More Love,’ is a hand-holding anthem of world peace. Yes, it’s a bit cliche, but it’s also a cliche that John Lennon championed, and Driver did win his award. So, one can ignore the tropes and enjoy ‘The World Could Use a Little More Love’ for what it is: a catchy, surprisingly beautiful finale to a superb album.

I simply love ‘The Drunken Buddhist.’ One could argue the title breaks the album down perfectly: some of the songs are more “buddhist,” like ‘This World Could Use a Little More Love’ and ‘The Devil May Care,’ and other songs are more drunken, ‘I’m Gonna Party,’ ‘Don’t Spit In My Food,’ to name a few. It’s an intelligently penned, terrifically performed record very much worth one’s time.