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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Nick Black

Summer + Spring

Review by Gary Hill

This is an intriguing set of music. The majority of it lands in jazzy territory. There is a lot of soul music built into this, too. There is a wide range of sounds, though. While there are some particularly strong pieces, nothing here is weak. All in all, this is an entertaining set that works well from start to finish.

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Track by Track Review
Joy to the Girl

Spinning up with a cool vibe, this works out to a funky, soulful groove. This is such classy stuff. It's part funk, part jazz, part soul and all cool.

Summer + Spring

This jazzy tune is a lot of fun. It's not as funky or classic in sound as the opener was. That said, there is plenty of retro sound here. This is another great tune. I love the guitar solo on this. The chorus hook is so catchy. I guess that's why it's the title track.

Nick at Night
Basically a modernized version of a Dixieland jam, this is so much fun. It just grooves and rocks. It's a highlight of the set for sure. The call and return section on this is definitely vintage. The organ lends some retro edges, too. The whole thing is just timeless in a lot of ways.
While this still has the horns in place, the cut is more of a modern pop rocker. There is still some jazz and soul at the heart of it, though. The guitar solo leans toward the jazz end of the spectrum for sure.
Runaway Heart
Modern pop music merges with a soul sensibility and some definite jazz here. I like this song, but not as much as I like a lot of the rest here.
Although this is cut from much the same cloth as the last number, somehow this one works better. I really dig the jazzy sounds here. There is definitely a 1970s element to this. The positive lyrical message is an important one, too.
When the Morning Comes
I really love the funk on this piece. It has such a great 1970s sound to it. This is one of my favorites here, really.
Lay It On the Line
Funky bass drives this song in some great ways. It's not a huge change, but just another strong soulful cut.
Dance In the Light

There is a lot more modern sound to this. That said, it still has some definite jazz and fusion built into it.

A cool jazzy piano solo opens this. It serves as the only backing for the first vocals. After that first vocal movement, this works out to a killer full jazz treatment. That instrumental section provides a nice contrast. When it returns to the vocal section it's closer to the more stripped back arrangement, but there are definitely more instruments and more power in the mix. This is such a killer jam. It's part fusion, but almost prog rock in some ways. This might be my favorite tune here. It's dynamic and so great.
When You Say Love
This mellower cut is soulful and a bit bluesy. It has a definite modern singer/songwriter kind of vibe to it. The vocal performance on this is particularly evocative. The whole cut really works well and provides some variety.
Outside of You
A retro sounding soulful pop tune, this is strong, but not as effective as some of the rest of the music here.
The River
A guitar driven tune, this is delivered in a singer/songwriter style. While it's not the most interesting or original thing here, it definitely brings something different to the table. I'm not sure I would have put it in the closing position, but I really like this tune a lot.


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