Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Review: John Nicole
John Nicole - Breathing You (Mind of Music Productions)
When it comes to rootsy rock and pop John Nicole is something of an all-rounder. The Virginia native writes in so many styles, it’s a wonder his albums don’t collapse and disintegrate under the weight of sheer multiplicity. Yet, Nicole is fortunate indeed. He possesses a voice that is distinctive and rich, together with an individual sound and style that binds everything else together. It seems to occupy many of the same spaces as Little Feat and the Grateful Dead, and it’s difficult not to be swept along by his persuasive, feel-good songs.
“Breathing You” is Nicole’s first proper album since retiring as a marketing executive. For most of his career he was involved in the music biz in one form or another. He’s directed over a 100 music videos, worked with several high profile musicians and served his time behind a mixing desk. His experience tells; “Breathing You” sounds great, but most of all there’s a sense that he’s been set free from corporate restraints, and he’s primarily making music for his own pleasure. Fortunately his enthusiasm is catching.
There’s a lot here to take in; 17 tracks and well over an hour of music. The collection kicks off with “Together Forever”, its gated percussion and solid ‘80s pop structure brings to mind Phil Collins circa “Face Value”, had Genesis been a Louisiana jam band rather than a product of the English public school system. In other words, it’s got soul. “Happy Life” includes a great guest vocal from Laura Baron and “Breathing Blues” might be the only straight blues on the record, but thanks to Bill Vasso’s guitar and Daryl Davis’ piano, it positively leaps from the speakers.