In my 25 years plus as a music obsessive, one of the things that has become apparent to me is that sometimes you just need to hear a certain album or artist at a certain time for them to make sense to you. If you’d played me a Nick Waterhouse album five years ago, chances are I would have dismissed it out of hand as a trying too hard attempt to emulate a late 50s / early 60s RnB retro pop cool. At that time I had no place in my life for what Mr Waterhouse had to offer.
Thing is, as a man who has just hurtled past his 40th birthday and is attempting to juggle his career with being a first time Dad, an imminent house move, and hour by hour adjusting the pressure gauge on my anxiety levels, right now I really need to saturate my life with things that I find warm and reassuring, and as fate would have it there’s something soft and comfy about the music of Nick Waterhouse. With his soulful, slightly jazzy tones, Nick Waterhouse specialises in a the sort of RnB which seems to pre-date the RnB combustibility of early Rolling Stones, and offers something sophisticated and lovingly crafted, while also having a reassuring sturdiness about it.
Waterhouse’s voice is pleasant and non jarring, as you would expect in someone who evidently takes the music he makes very seriously indeed. There’s nothing disposable or transient about any of the eleven tracks on this self-titled album (Waterhouse’s fourth), instead it’s beginning to end quality workmanship. It’s the kind of release which aches to be heard on vinyl, via a decent separates system, and through some nice warm-sounding speakers, but hey, if you’re just listening to something on your mobile phone through your headphones on the way home to distract you from the commuter hell of rush hour, it works just as well in any format.
Nick Waterhouse is an album which is an easy and undemanding listen, and that’s the beauty of it. Too often these days for music to be deemed worthy, the listener has to feel challenged or compelled to put effort into the listening experience. With Nick Waterhouse, that is flipped on its head, so that the album becomes generous. It’s an album you’ll want to return to regularly simply because it requires so little effort for the listener to enjoy it.
Granted, if you want to be challenged by the music you listen to, then the music of Nick Waterhouse may not be for you, but for those of us with busy lives, demanding jobs and pressures on us that may mean that we don’t actually want to put an undue amount of effort into something that should be fun, such as listening to an album of nice music, then Nick Waterhouse might be just what you’re looking for.
Nick Waterhouse is released on 8 March on Innovative Leisure.