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Nick 13

Nick 13 – 2011 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Sara Hetland

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CDs by Nick 13

Harkening back to the sounds of the 50's and 60's has become especially trendy of late, as many a musician eschews "radio" or "contemporary" country and instead tries to mention names like "Johnny Cash" as his or her inspiration. Nick 13 is one of these somewhat retro-sounding artists, and he pulls it off well, with a smooth voice that melds seamlessly with acoustic bass, pedal steel and twangy guitar.

Before he lent his voice to traditional country, Nick 13 was (and still is) the lead songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of the psychobilly band Tiger Army. Despite his creative powers in the band, Nick 13's wanted to explore a solo career to get away from "a certain sound people expect." While he may stray from Tiger Army's sound on "Nick 13," he covers 2 of their songs: In The Orchard and Cupid's Victim. Unfortunately, they sound a bit lacking in comparison to the Tiger Army versions, which have more power and grit. There is a bit of new beauty in Nick 13's solo version of latter, but the former feels entirely unnecessary.

Beyond the covers, however, "Nick 13" has some great, fresh (or at least as "fresh" as retro can be) moments. Carry My Body Down is a standout track, featuring the ubiquitous and talented guitarist Greg Leisz. Someday is a gorgeous mix of fiddling, thoughtful lyrics and upbeat melody. At times a bit too easygoing and clocking in at just over 38 minutes, "Nick 13" is like a country summer - maybe not quite substantial enough and over before you know it, but also worth enjoying.