Written by Pamela Bellmore, posted by blog admin
Nick Black’s Summer & Spring is the third album from a young singer and musician whose ascent shows no sign of slowing down. It’s quite rewarding to encounter a young guitar virtuoso who knows just how to incorporate his playing into a larger framework rather than leaning on flashy six string heroics in some misguided attempt to guide the performance. There’s nothing heavy handed in these thirteen songs. Instead, Summer & Spring is guided by an artful sensibility that harkens back to an earlier time in the genre’s history and never risks the self indulgence so typically common to younger performers trying this style on for size. It is more than a outstanding successor to his 2015 Deep Blue – Nick Black’s Summer & Spring does what the aforementioned album did by expanding and building on the possibilities his talent affords.
“Joy to the Girl” makes total sense as one of the album’s first singles and moves effortlessly through an assortment of funky turns that the twenty eight year old never seems out of place delivering. Any silly notions about a white performer being able to carry off this style are misguided, to put it mildly, but whatever remaining doubts are in the heads of listeners should be laid to rest by a single performance like this. He shows off a more economical, thoughtful side with the album’s title cut and it has an effortless glide made even sweeter by on point production. Black co-produced the album with James Bennett and each of the thirteen tracks glows with a high gloss aural shine that gives every instrument in the mix clarity and warmth. “Nick at Night” might be regarded as a throwaway tune by some, but it’s good fun to hear and wisely doesn’t stick around long enough to try the patience of Black’s audience. He transitions without so much as a hiccup to more serious strands of “Change” and his ability to sound equally at home on more adult numbers and smirking jazz jumpers like “Nick at Night” is a further indication of how his talents have evolved in a major way since 2015.
The steady stride of “Neighbor” comes from a radio-ready take on AOR rock that isn’t in great supply on this album, but nonetheless makes a deep impact when it appears. He’s clearly comfortable with this style and the drumming provides a real urgency for this song that puts it over the top. The contrast between this song and “When the Morning Comes” could hardly be more pronounced. The latter is, far and away, the most funkafied number on Summer & Spring with Black and his band mates putting on a virtual clinic for listeners and taking them on a mind-twisting ride. “Diamonds” has a funky edge as well, but it is less pronounced than what we hear on other numbers and spun a little with a polyrhythmic feel. The percussion is especially effective. Nick Black covers a lot of musical ground over the course of these thirteen tracks and it makes for a satisfying trip for both casual fans and longtime hardcore music fans.