by: katy mombourquette
Ever since he was a kid, Salim Nourallah has had a deep appreciation for English rock ‘n roll music. As he grew up and cultivated a career as a musician into the 90’s, he found his life intertwined with two other multi-talented individuals: Chris Holt and Paul Averitt. The trio started bands together, played on each other’s albums, and got involved in many of the same collaborative projects. The two decades of shared respect and friendship along with Nourallah’s love of English rock have culminated in a new project that celebrates a reenvisioning of old music, called A Break in the Battle. The name comes from the Pretender’s “Back on the Chain Gang”, the words fitting to Nourallah, Holt, and Averitt’s belief in music as a respite from the toil of life. Like a giant love letter to their heroes, each song is stripped back to the essentials, which are then illuminated by the guys with a loving hand. The first round of tracks came out in 2017, with classics like The Replacements’ “Kiss Me on the Bus” and The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” After a two year hiatus following the death of Nourallah’s mother, the trio is set to release the second collection of songs later this year.
Kicking things off for round two, the boys have released Nick Heyward’s “Kite.” The original features a full sound, punchy beat, and a complex web of sounds including metallic guitars, warm horns and strings, and twinkling bells. The tone Heyward’s voice vaguely reminds one of Billy Corgan’s, but instead of the patented and glorious harshness that the Smashing Pumpkins’ lead singer is known for, Heyward’s voice is pleasant and earnest. A Break in the Battle’s version maintains that humble, earnest tone in the vocals, and has the same overall spirit as the original, but it achieves this using a different instrumental blueprint. The iconic waterfall-like guitar picking remains in the intro, but in the 2020 version it’s backed by prominent acoustic guitar strumming. The track is less punchy and more dreamy, complete with gentle harmonies and dazzling combinations of metallic guitar and reverberating piano.
One of the biggest pitfalls to avoid when making a cover is trying to sound like a carbon copy of the original. Nourallah, Holt, and Averitt’s version of “Kite” successfully sidesteps this stumbling block. It carefully preserves the essence and integrity of Heyward’s song, but approaches it from a different direction. With “Kite”, we see that the boys’ imagination is just as finely tuned as it was three years ago.
While the rest of the collection will be out later this year, in the meantime there are 16 opportunities on the first collection of A Break in the Battle for you to experience your favourite English rock tunes like it’s the first time.