Nick Waterhouse – “Holly”
This is the second album from Californian Nick Waterhouse, and contains his unique perspective on the spirit of American rhythm & blues and rock & roll. It was produced by Waterhouse and Kevin Augunas (Cold War Kids, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and includes song writing collaborations with friend Ty Segall, as well as covers of tracks by Young Holt Trio and Mose Allison among others. It’s an ambitious release which Waterhouse describes as feeling more like “a novella, or poem with sections, or even a film, than a collection of songs”.
It starts with a sultry and seductive opening in the shape of “High Tiding, which has a retro/classic sound that is a mix of soul and a dash of rock n roll, to give it a real fifties feel. The seductive tone reappears later in the album on “Sleeping Pills”, but that song adds a more latin style beat and what sounds like bongos (trust me, despite that, it sounds great!). “Well It’s fine” is another soul song, but again, it certainly has a fifties, almost rock n roll feel to it. This may just be down to the production of the album, which is very retro sounding. It has a clean and crisp tone, totally different to the over produced albums that we tend to hear these days.
The lead single off the album is “This Is A Game”, and rightly so, as it is an upbeat song which will be the one to get people up and dancing. You can see why some people may make references to Amy Winehouse when describing Nick’s sound. It would not come as a surprise to see this being picked up for an advertising campaign and becoming huge. On “It’s No. 3” the warmth of both Nick’s vocals and the overall feel of the song are the factors which make it stand apart from so many modern soul songs. There is just an added sense of authenticity rather than being polished.
The title track itself is another which will get people up and dancing, it has a more northern soul style beat to it. The dance floor fillers then keep coming with “Dead Room”, a song that you just won’t be able to help but turn up loud and start dancing along to. That is at least until you reach the mid song jazz sounding break, which will totally throw any rhythm you may have! You will soon be up and dancing again, however, with “Ain’t There Something That Money Can’t Buy” which is sure to have you shaking your money maker to it.
The album comes to a conclusion, way too soon, with the fine soulful ballad, “Hands On The Clock”. This song has a real end of the night, one last drink in a cool jazz/blues bar feel to it.
Having already seen the release of the excellent Sharon Jones album (review here https://thesoulofaclown.com/2014/02/02/sharon-jones-the-dap-kings-give-the-people-what-they-want-album-review/) this year, maybe we are going to see a revival in this type of retro soul sound, let’s hope so. The songs here are an advertiser’s dream and many could accompany a party scene for the latest cool drink.That’s not a criticism though, like Amy Winehouse’s great stuff, these are songs for a modern age, but with an authenticity which is just so rare today. Listening to this album the artist that actually springs to mind is J.D. McPherson. Whilst he is far more rockabilly than soul, they both seem to share many similar qualities. In particular, the production gives it a fifties feel and there is just a warmth and passion for the music that seems to shine out on every note. This is definitely one of those albums that you could see exploding and becoming huge, and let’s hope it does. If not, you can see people really loving it and probably buying on CD for the car and on vinyl as well, for the extra warmth and satisfaction that can bring.