Nick Africano’s music is unique in a sea of “this guy sounds like that guy” music. It doesn’t fit in a genre or style. We can give one concrete word for it. Nick’s music is good. We found his new album The Butterfly Bull to be varied in all the right ways. His voice is at time a powerhouse fit for arena rock, sometimes soulful befitting mid-60s Motown, and yet other times sincere like only the early years of Elvis Pressley. Like we said, varied.
The album is start to finish pop music, but it goes about that in several different ways. From piano-driven tunes to soulful full band jams, the album covers a wide variety. While some might find the lack of cohesion a distraction, we actually think it helps make the album work.
One of the best tracks on the album is the second track, “Bring Me Water.” The syncopated drums set an immediate tone for a killer track. The snazzy piano track that jumps in early matches Africano’s sleek vocals very well. It’s a heartbroken song about a lover who left. It’s about “burning timber” needing water. “I’m burnin’ up.” What it lacks in lyrical sophistication it makes up for in having a killer beat. The guitar licks that sneak in… the organ… it all comes together in a remarkable production that surprisingly does not get over produced. Africano’s strong vocals provide the catalyst for the rest of the song to work extremely well.
“Slow Burn” and “Stranger” really seem to slow the album down, but are both admittedly more introspective songs. “Everything is here” follows them, again a piano-based softer song. “You found me half awake in my darkest hour.” It’s a deep, soulful love song, even if it does not sound explicitly like a soul song. Africano shines on his more powerful tracks.
Speaking of powerful tracks, Africano soars a bit like a slightly deeper Amos Lee on “Tiny Stars.” The song itself is not faster or harder, but it has a full band sound that seems to fill in for Africano quite nicely. “We don’t know our neighbors… but we say are doin’ fine.” The song itself provides a social commentary that emerges nicely at the midpoint of the album. The jazzy piano licks set the song apart and give it exciting balance.
“In Boca al Lupa” has a nice fiery upbeat sound. It even has horns. Some aspects of the song actually put listeners in mind of the great band Chicago. It’s a great song for jamming. We’re not positive what they’re saying and we’re cool with that. Some songs aren’t meant to be dissected. They are meant to be enjoyed and we like this one.
Overall, it’s a well balanced album. As we said at the beginning the best part of it is the variety of sounds. While we favor Africano’s voice with the more upbeat jams, he can make the slower stuff work. We’re excited to follow his career and hear where else his falsetto takes him. The former standout baseball player and son of a world famous artist has plenty of music career to write himself.