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Music Review - `The Road Not Taken` by Nick Justice (jh)

Nick JusticeThe Road Less Taken   (click on image to watch video)

02 November 2019 

 

This is singer-songwriter Nick Justice’s fourth album, continuing his usual themes of love gone wrong, misfits and the downtrodden. As per his previous two releases, Justice continues with relatively sparse backing helmed by co-producer and multi-instrumentalist, Richard Bredice. In addition to producing, engineering and mixing Bredice plays guitars, organ, bass, and percussion. Richard Stekol provided a variety of strings while Justice mostly sings. Strums, and plays the harmonica. Frank Cotinola plays drums on most tracks with Jeff Ward behind the traps for two. “Left No Reply” and “you Didn’t Love Me Anyway,” where he’s joined by bassist James Quintero.

Justice’s gift his ability to relate to most of us in his tales and straight forward lyrics in a deep, resonant voice.  He’s got a knack for catchy hooks and melodic choruses that remain memorable. He opens with his eye toward mortality in the self-confessional “Take Me Home” – “I didn’t see the madness that was my life…come Holy Spirit, take me home.” Bredice provides nice slide work. The theme continues into “Judgement Day,” which has a  more buoyant tone, imbued by banjo and Justice’s only use of harmonica on the album. The glow continues to brighten on “Down Country,’ with images of lemonade and blue skies, and the sounds of summer emanating from the transistor radio.

The title track is filled with ominous acoustic guitar chords and some terrific interplay between Bredice and Stekol as Justice sings about regret. The gorgeous “Song for Caity  (A Daughter’s Song)” brings the requisite tenderness and Justice sounds convincingly affectionate in singing lines like “your twinkling eyes heal my soul.” He moves to the complete opposite spectrum in “No Reply,” about a drug deal gone bad.

“You Didn’t Love Me Anyway” is Justice’s signature kind of song about a failed relationship, which ends in a rather defiant expression of freedom and the cold chorus captured in the song title. “The Winds of Change” is punctuated with a mandolin as it builds into a rather antithetic statement as the electric guitars swell before returning to the opening groove. “Slipping Away” is a lively country-rock shuffle where Justice sings about the road wearing him down. “Calling All Lost Souls” lies somewhere between Dylan and Petty and again features outstanding guitar spots as Justice tries to summon hope for all of us.

Justice’s narratives rarely feel happy or satisfied with the exceptions of “Down Country,” “Song for City (A Daughter’s Song),” and “Judgement Day,” yet he remains eminently listenable due to his gift for lyrics and outstanding support on multiple strings from Bredice and Stekol. Justice is the quintessential troubadour, taking common thoughts and themes into relatively simple and melodic song structures all the while making it seem deceptively easy.

 

 

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

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