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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Record Review - Nick Waterhouse

Time’s All Gone
Innovative Leisure CD/LP

25-years old, L.A. resident, present day is the reality. The dream of Nick Waterhouse, as far as his debut record suggests, is significantly older, in Nashville, circa 1962. A clear and concise R&B fanatic, Waterhouse has run with old-school ideals to create a humdinger of a rocking, authentic 32-minute performance. Yes yes, it does seem all the rage at the moment - Amy, Aloe Blacc, Sharon Jones, Mark Ronson etc. - but you cannot make this sort of record without having learnt your chops first and thrown your guts into it, so kudos to him for sticking to his sonic guns. The attention to detail - from the music, to the sharp modernist threads he sports, even the 50s jazz font colours of the artwork - borders on the best sort of OCD you could have. Hey, he even ensured it was mastered to mono on the same Gold Star Studios Lathe that Phil Spector & the Beach Boys once used!

The Slim Harpo/Excello sound is the strongest flavour running throughout the songs. Gorgeous honking sax is the centrepiece of opener ‘Say I Wanna Know’, with warm Hammond and a sweet female vocal...in fact Waterhouse is hardly there! Then it’s onto the dancefloor with the “midnight-hour R&B shake-fest” of ‘Some Place’, that’s fast becoming a mod club favourite (and will set you back about £100 on eBay!). You can understand why, it’s undeniably gritty and bursting with soul and 150 seconds of sheer brilliance. ‘Raina’ showcases his bruiser crooner side, with a lovely skirt-shaking flourish in the middle. All the songs are really well arranged, with plenty of heightened tension coming through on songs like ‘Indian Love Call’ and the popcorn swinger ‘Teardrop Will Follow You’.

His cover of Them’s ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ left me cold - he’s thrown the baby out with the bathwater by discarding the gritty vocals and killer riff...and left a completely different song in it’s place. So he is human after after all. One other slight frustration I must mention is that there’s some fabulous singing here, but it’s partially obscured by the musicians and too much reverb. I’m sure it’s intentional, but as my mother said you should never hide your light under a bushel...especially one that burns this bright.

A star is born. PLAY LOUD, as a famous Liverpudlian once intoned.

Smart Phil

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