Brooklyn based Nick Hakim asks the questions with his new album, principally that. Will this record, this piece of art make him good. As a person or as an artist is less clear, but it’s one of many he asks as he struggles to comprehend the world around him. For much of the build up to the record Hakim struggled with writers block and other issues which have played very much in his mind when making the record.
As is his want, everything is bathed in a hazy hue, as lines and instruments and even songs bleed into eachother as Hakim skilfully traverses elements of funk, electronic (soul), electronic and even elements of jazz, whilst pulling in snatches of 80s space pop to drape his ethereal vocals over.
A lot of the album has a sadness about it, albeit wistful. Bouncing, which deals with anxiety is probably the best example, Devastatingly beautiful but impossibly sad as he tried to work about a way through things, all wrapped up in this sort of science fiction Soundtrack sounding thing, slithers of electronica bonding with the winding choral figure. Whoo follows a similar path, borrowing a little more from Prince at his most introspective on the way.
There’s more to it than that though. Both Gods Dirty Work and All These Instruments bring a gentle funk to proceedings, while there’s an underlying sympathy wrapped up in hoplessness/anger about Vincent Tyler – a story of a murder in D.C. as Hakim coos ‘We walked over slowly
And found a man in all black laying face down / I walked over slowly / And I prayed that he was sleeping / Tapped his foot three times / But nobody answered / Nobody answered”
Best of all is opener ‘All in changes’ which builds in elements of all the above and places it in something that sounds at times as it unfurls and demonstrates it’s full beauty like Stevie Wonder mashing it up with Duran Duran, which is every bit as good as it sounds.
It seems like with Will This Make Me Good was an artistic struggle with a world that Nick Hakim feels in at least some part, alienated from and puzzled by. But with this collection of songs that, through pure melodicism and gloriously understated arrangements, give you and answer to that very question. Nick Hakim was always good. Now he’s very good.
Nick Hakim – Will this make me good is out now on ATO Records