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Album review: Scott Helman - Nonsuch Park (sa)

Some of our UK listeners, especially those based around London and Surrey, might be familiar with the name Nonsuch Park. It's a large public park centered around a grand, imagination-induing mansion that has a special meaning to the Canadian singer and songwriter Scott Helman. Although a Toronto resident, Helman spent many a happy holiday in England, visiting his grandfather, affectionately referred to as "papa", who happened to live right by the aforementioned Nonsuch Park.

One track that was released ahead of the album was 'Papa', an absolutely heartbreaking dedication to Scott Helman's late grandfather. As he openly shares:

“It was here where we would walk and cackle at awful jokes, lean in for the stories, make peace with our busy lives and draw meaning from the lessons we had learned since our last visit,” says Scott. “If my past works have been displays of discovery, this work is a declaration – a declaration of love, meaning, questions and truth, and it is all dedicated to you, Papa. Thank you for helping me piece together the fragments of my life and giving me the space to do it.”

Another track that Scott Helman's listeners will have already heard is 'Wait No More', a decidedly upbeat and radio-ready single expressing the musician's carpe diem attitude. With warm acoustic strings and a driving dance-inspired beat, we're certainly convinced to live in the moment, even if that lasts just for the length of this song.

And so, we move onto the album and those choice tracks that we simply can't get enough of....

'EVERGREEN' is also acoustic and electronic elements to form texture layers of pop goodness, but unlike 'Wait No More', there's an edge of grounding reality tied to Scott Helman's passion for environmental change and protection. Sharing the same name as his eco initiative, 'EVERGREEN' was inspired by last year’s climate strikes that took place around the world, Scott called upon his fans to share their own thoughts on the issue, which were incorporated into the accompanying music video.

Another track that shows the young artist's keen interest in global issues is 'Afraid of America', in which he lays out how all the trappings of the so-called American Dream, whether that be Hollywood icons, Air Force 1's, Chevrolet's and everything on-demand, is a distraction from the potentially life-threatening political and economic decisions made by the current US government. On a musical note, we can't get enough of the percussion-fronted spoken word style and smokey soul backing vocals, all topped off with yet another ear-wormy chorus that you'll be singing for days.

Preceding 'EVERGREEN' is the unmissable, guitar-led serenade 'Good Problems', showing just how diverse a songwriter Scott Helman is. This one is love to the max, in which Helman expresses the undying love for this girlfriend and how their relationship provides an oasis from life's troubles.

On a similarly romantic note, 'Lois' is another on that you should add to your playlists, especially when you're looking for a little bass-laden boost. Here Scott Helman shows his unique perspective of the world as he invites you to consider that "Superman never would have flown as high without his Lois." In amongst the fascinating production and those ever-present pop hooks that Helman does so well, 'Lois' is a wholesome reminder that a healthy, interdependent relationship is all about being there for the good times as well as the bad.

Now that we've run through our favourite tracks from Scott Helman's Nonsuch Park (sa), we'll leave you to listen to the record in full and pick out the ones that you love the most.


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