Album: Nicholas Krgovich – This Spring: Songs by Veda Hille

By Phil Scarisbrick

A record that should get audiences digging into Veda Hille’s back catalogue, but also confirms that Nicholas Krgovich is one of the most underrated alternative musicians around

If there are two words used together in the musical lexicon that fill me with less enthusiasm than ‘tribute’ and ‘album’, then I’ve no idea what they are. Usually, such collections are posthumous outpourings of mawkish, self-aggrandising twaddle for some megastar or significant cultural icon whose work we’re all largely familiar with. When I first saw that Nicholas Krgovich was releasing such an album though, it didn’t make my eyes roll as I’d have expected. Firstly, I – like a lot of people outside of Vancouver, I’d assume – was completely unaware of Veda Hille. Secondly, his reasoning for making such a record feels far more wholesome than the usual tribute album. 

As a fifteen year old, Krgovich had made a demo recording with some other musicians of four of Hille’s songs. After one of her gigs he anxiously gave her a copy. Years later, and now counting Hille as a friend, he performed her song Plants at a show in L.A., after which people kept asking him about who the song was by and then spent the evening frantically Googling her. It was then that he felt compelled to put this collection together. Not only to pay tribute to her as a fan, but to amplify his friend’s art to a whole new audience.

Opening track, Where Am I From? combines sparsely arranged instruments with Krgovich’s distinctive voice before melting away into Luckylucky. Manically circling vocals repeating the title mantra fly around the mix as a myriad of other vocals drive above it. ‘You need the air / You need the freedom / You need to pit yourself against the hardship of the world’ he sings on one of the record’s early highlights. Bedlam feels like it could have slid straight off Krgovich’s last solo outing, “Ouch”, with Hille’s repeated ‘If you do nothing, it means nothing’ hook embedding itself into your mind’s eye, while a wailing sax adds extra flecks of colour to the soulful, R&B backing.

The aforementioned Plants also featured in the album’s second half, with its evocative, visual lyrics The daffodil is a wild flower / The dandelion is a weed / The bluebell is a pretty flower / The holly is a prickly tree’ proving as effective on record as they had been to that L.A. audience. Noah’s Ark’s minimal backing really allows Krgovich’s voice to flourish, and is imbued with a passion for the music he is reimagining that is palpable. 

The final track is reserved for the composer of the fifteen pieces we’d previously heard, Hille providing the vocals as she takes the final curtain call on a record created in her honour. Given her own artistic background, it is rather fitting that the most theatrical track on the whole record is reserved just for her. It also provides the perfect answer to Krgovich’s intentions with this record. He wants to share the music of an artist he adores, who inspired him in his formative years, with the whole world in the best way he knows how. The finished product is a stunning collection that will not only get audiences digging into Hille’s repertoire, but also confirms that Krgovich himself is one of the most underrated artists around.

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