Nicholas David – Yesterday’s Gone
Wild Heart Records -2019
11 tracks; 53 minutes
St Paul, Minnesota is the home base of Nicholas David who has been making records locally since the turn of the millennium. He was in the final three of The Voice in 2012 and, after doing a solo support slot on a Devon Allman tour, he was invited to play keyboards in the Devon Allman Project where he met Samantha Fish who offered to produce his next project, his first on a national/international label. Nicholas travelled to New Orleans to record, using a core band of Samantha’s regular drummer Scott Graves, NO bassist Charlie Wooton (Royal Southern Brotherhood) and Jonathon Long on guitar; both Charlie and Jonathon have had recent releases on Wild Heart. Additional musicians include Duane Betts who adds guitar to four tracks, Kayla Jasmine and Anjelika ‘Jelly’ Joseph on backing vocals and R. Scott on percussion. Nicholas is on vocals and all keyboards, plus occasional acoustic guitar and all the songs are his originals.
Nicholas says that the South had been exerting a pull on him for some time and that New Orleans was the natural place to record the album. However, there is not the distinctive NO feel to these recordings, rather a mellow groove to a sophisticated and listenable album. Nicholas’ voice has been compared to Dr John and he does have a slightly gruff tone but has a better range than the late Doctor so his voice is well suited to the wistful tones of songs like “Peel Back The Leaves”, a stripped back quartet piece with piano dominating the music. Perhaps it is the piano sound but Bruce Hornsby comes to mind when listening to a track like “Curious” with Jonathon on rhythm and Nicholas playing the ‘lead’ on synth while lyrically Nicholas seems to be searching for meaning. The Hornsby comparison again comes to the fore on “Time’s Turning” which is a trio of piano, bass and drums and a convincing vocal as Nicholas reflects on time passing yet the relationship remaining strong: “So we found each other, another chance to change, a new beginning. Windows to one another, ways out of the ordinary. Let’s make a mark but let us walk softly now. Come close, love me with your heart. I can see it in your eyes, there’s no question, time’s turning, everyone playing their part, together in any direction”.
Duane Betts adds some striking guitar and ups the rock quotient on “Hole In The Bottom” which is a really attractive tune to open the album as Nicholas reflects on the sadness of a faded relationship, Duane’s fine solo topping off the track; “Heavy Heart” is a soulful tune with sad lyrics, Nicholas’ trembly vocals supported by the backing vocals, Duane’s role limited to a few arpeggios; “Let U Go” is another ballad with Nicholas’ piano prominent and Duane’s elegant guitar fills sounding a little distant in the mix. Finally “Stars” starts with a country feel with acoustic guitar and a vocal that is almost half-spoken before building into a more anthemic section in which Nicholas asks to be remembered.
Elsewhere we get a little bit of island rhythms on “Okay” with funky rhythm guitar behind the organ and some very retro-sounding synth on the jagged “With Or Without”. “I’m Interested” is apparently the oldest song here and perhaps comes the closest to blues in Charlie’s bass lines while Jonathon plays some heavily distorted wah-wah and Nicholas uses a touch of rap style in his vocal approach. “Little By Little” closes the album in jaunty style with a hint of gospel in the closing section.
The PR sheet that accompanied the CD describes the album as ‘Contemporary Blues/Americana’ while my I-Tunes calls it ‘Pop’. However you categorize it, this is a very listenable album but there is no real blues here.