Album Reviews

#Sassafras: Nick Waterhouse

#Sassafras: Nick Waterhouse

Nick Waterhouse //Holly
Record Label: Innovative Leisure [ to be released March 4th, 2014]

Nick Waterhouse’s latest offering Holly, is damn fine collection that, much like his contemporaries Pokey LeFarge and JD McPherson, revisit and reignites the greatness of music gone by. The all-analog album is free from synthesized sounds, button pressing and programming and instead lets human talent shine in tight performances that are full of life. Opening with the creeper “High Tiding”. Waterhouse’s crooning timbre has a sinister edge not unlike Nick Cave. Layer that with a palm-muted guitar, snappy drums and a haunting organ and you can tell the listener is in for a 10-track-treat.

The saxy “This Is A Game” moves and grooves with a quick beat, hand drums and surfy guitar lines while “Let It Come Down” is slow and soulful with lines like “If there’s gonna be rain tonight, let it come down”. Waterhouse has a great musical range, making it hard to pigeonhole him into just one niche genre. The same can’t be said for other throwback-inspired artists.

Ray Charles-like electric piano gives “Dead Room” a killer “What’d I Say?” vibe and breaks with a jazzy saxophone solo at the two minute mark that breaks up the song in a great way. It’s like a plot twist in a book you can’t put down; it makes you want to see what comes next. Jazz tones continue in “Well it’s Fine”. Jazz trio sounds of guitar, double bass and drums with brushes makes for a cool scene.

“Ain’t There Something Money Can’t Buy” sizzles with Jimmy Smith style organ that burns and yearns between Waterhouse and background singers. It’s a tune originally by the Young Holt Trio but it sounds at home on Holly. “Hands On The Clock” is a film noir closer with the gumshoe strolling the rainy city streets after cracking a tough case.

Holly is only Waterhouse’s second album, yet he sings and plays like a man with a much larger catalog behind him. It could be inspiration from the acts before him or perhaps he’s got a much deeper catalog the world has yet to hear. Regardless, Holly is a great example of true musicians doing what they do.

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Mark Nason

March 3rd, 2014

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