What does it sound like?:
According to historians Soul music died in 1976 when disco and funk took over. However, there are plenty of modern-day acts that are updating the sound and keeping the flame alive. Yola’s latest album could be Dusty Springfield going to Memphis and covering Shelby Lynne songs. In another dimension, Durand Jones & The Indications might have graduated from Booker T Washington School and signed for Stax in 1968. St. Paul & The Broken Bones are torn on the horns of the dilemma between the secular and the profane, just like Al Green or Marvin Gaye. James Hunter sounds as though he learnt guitar at the knee of Bo Diddley. Leon Bridges worships at the altar of Sam Cooke. The list goes on.
Nick Waterhouse finds himself described as a Soul revivalist. In fact, he creates R&B in the old-fashioned sense of Rhythm & Blues, as in the early sixties. More than that, despite hailing from California, his style of R&B is very British. He could easily fit on a bill with The Animals and The High Numbers before they became The Who, when they were Maximum R&B. However, it could be even more complicated. Perhaps, the guitar riff for the single, Song For Winners, isn’t a nod to Johnny Kidd & The Pirates after all, but is, instead, paying homage to Mose Allison. It’s likely that Waterhouse is inspired by the acts that inspired those sixties British acts.
This is Nick’s fourth album and he writes ten of the eleven tracks. He loves his diamond pattern jumpers, spats and slicked back hair. There are lady backing vocalists going ‘ooh’, a parping horn section and a drummer sitting upright on his stool. The cover song is a Northern Soul classic, written by his friend and mentor, Jo Armstead, who once worked with Ray Charles. There’s a hint of noir, a pinch of Latin, an instrumental, a torch ballad, even a soupçon of Elvis, but, mainly, this is an album to throw shapes to.
Of course, the music is a throwback. However, Nick Waterhouse is being true to himself. The music, on an album titled Nick Waterhouse, is a declaration of who he is. He doesn’t do pastiche, nor does he rip anyone off. He is being sincere, robust and powerful, aided by like-minded musicians, singers and producers. He is expressing himself through R&B, just as Imelda May with Rockabilly or Amy Winehouse when finding her inner chanteuse de soul on Back To Black. The best thing to do is to take Nick Waterhouse at face value and simply enjoy his panache and presence.
There is a lot to love on Nick Waterhouse.
What does it all *mean*?
Waterhouse is a quality singer with a quality band, playing quality songs. What more do you want?
Goes well with…
A desire to get up off the chair and trip the light fantastic.
Might suit people who like…
Mojo’s 2008 CD, The New Dictionary Of Blues And Soul.