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Album Review

JUSTIN NOZUKA
If This Guy Misses,
I'm Givin' Up!

I swear to God. Every day I hear great music, and I mean great, but I don't really expect everyone to get a Bright Giant or a Research Turtles or even an Ali Milner. As much as I love what they do, I hear comments hear and there from people not as open to different styles as am I and I get it. They don't quite hear it. I feel bad for those people, truth be told, because they are missing the magic I surround myself with every day for, to me, when the music is great, it is pure magic. I hear it and I feel it and at moments feel disdain towards those who would comment that there is no good music out there these days. So when a guy like Justin Nozuka comes along, the hackles raise on the back of my neck and I get ready to fight.

Nozuka, you see, is as mainstream as it gets. He sings what the masses used to clamor for--- honest to God music which is so damn good you toss genre out the window and wallow in it. He writes and sings ready-made hit songs. I mean, he sings! He has one of those voices you want at three in the morning when you're winding down or eight in the evening when you want quiet time with the love of your life. And he doesn't abuse it like so many singers of today. He reins it in and fits it to the mood and song and to hell with the vocal pyrotechnics some show-offs think show range and ability. He knows what the music needs and gives it that and not a bit more. The guy has an unerring touch.

Want proof? Every song on You I Wind Land and Sea is a gem and you don't see that happen very often. The haunting beauty of the folk-oriented Unwoken Dream (King With Everything) captures a beauty reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel at their ethereal best; the light and jazzy soul beat of Heartless could be a classic out of the songbook of the incredibly underrated Grayson Hugh (but isn't); the spacey and dreamlike intro to Gray which opens the album reminds me of another underrated band, Stress, especially in the way the song builds at the end. My favorite track on the album is the smooth and flowing Love, which includes a chord progression on the chorus I've only really felt once--- on Jess Pillmore's knockout album Reveal, specifically a track titled Open Your Mouth. It knocked me out then and it knocks me out now. Oh, it is not just the chord progression. It is how it is done and boy, do these two do it.

An aside: You know who else deserves credit? Producer Bill Bell. This album is a production showcase and you have to hear it to understand. Like Foster Brooks always said after taking a swig--- smoooooth.

Justin Nozuka deserves to make it big. Bob Segarini thinks so and recently included him on his list of fifteen artists he would like to see make it, big-time. Why? Partially because he must be a nice guy. Segarini, like myself, has no time for artists who are not. But mainly because Nozuka has the goods. He touches on so many things that makes the heart beat a bit faster and pumps a bit of adrenaline through the system. Mostly love. Not too many can pull it off like he can. Like I said, if he doesn't make it, I'm givin' up. Don't let that happen, please. Listening to and writing about music is one of the few things this old man has left. Buy this album or, at least, check it out. You might well be thanking me.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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