Article by Andrés Alvarado
Nick Waterhouse is one badass cat — in the good sense of the word. A musician’s musician, if you will. An author of throwback melody coolness and, quite simply, a bottomless pit of talent. For his 4th LP, Waterhouse went the route of self-titling his offering; akin to believing and reaffirming his own clout. Sure, Nick Waterhouse has rifled off great albums in the past, but maybe it is time to stop looking for catchy and deep-meaning cover captions and simply let his name provide his own seal of approval and reaffirm that this is an album worth paying mind to.
Nick Waterhouse, the album, is a Rat-Pack(ish) affair. An ode to the yesteryear brand of jazz fixtures and early rock-n-roll awakenings. Single “Wreck the Rod” is robust on the bluesy finger-snapping undertones that attach nice-n-precise to the sheer playfulness of the backing vocals. The type of noteworthy track from the days when pompadours and beehives ruled the mainstream — brought to present day.
By contrast, the moody and loungey susceptibilities latched to the Leonard Cohen-esque “Thought & Act” enlivens the notions of gloom and fog on a rainy day, yet forks-over a cozy earworm easiness that sucks in an audience. Additionally, record opener, “By Heart” sheds a bright spotlight on some exceptional horn arrangements, a little cowbell percussion, tight vocalization, and dreamy riffs that assuredly delight outright.
Rounding out the hauntingly buff core on Nick Waterhouse are the sway-inducing “Song For Winners,” “Undedicated” with it’s atmospheric whodunnit finesse, and the cheeky “Black Glass” with its soulful bravado. Nonetheless, if Nick Waterhouse were to be nicked for anything, it might be it’s habit to get lost in the similarities and giant shade of genre-champions of the past like Ben E. King, Al Green, and Little Richard. However, those are pretty notorious names to draw comparisons to; and in that sense, Mr. Waterhouse is having the last laugh.
In the end, Nick Waterhouse is a splendid blend of heavy old-timey soul & jazz razzmatazz and some light new-school swagger. Nick Waterhouse has kicked the door open and claimed a spot at the head of the table of his musical branch. This latest offering is straightforwardly marvelous, a must listen achievement, and likely barreling onto a collision course with those end-of-the-year best-of lists.
Album Score: 9/10 — Key Tracks: By Heart, Thought & Act, Wreck the Rod, and Black Glass.