Holly by Nick Waterhouse
It takes a second to get it. At first glance, one probably looks at this album cover and thinks that the beautiful woman pictured is the artist and her name is Holly. And since she is pictured behind a cozy, autumn backdrop straight out of the movie The Notebook, you can't help but think she is a Joni Mitchell-inspired "Lady of the Canyon."
But album artwork can be deceiving. Holly isn't the artist—she is the subject of an album. And a good one, too.
Holly is the second album by Nick Waterhouse, who is a singer/songwriter only in the sense that he is an individual instead of a band. Waterhouse isn't a James Taylor copycat. He's more like a slick man dressed in a zoot suit who has left the hustle of the city to do whatever he damn pleases in a suburb 10-15 minutes away.
In short, Nick Waterhouse is a Roy Orbison-influenced narrator of cool—sort of like Chris Isaak or T. Bone Burnett. His music is performed with hollow body electric guitars, church organs, a horn section and double basses—alongside a few backing singers who sound as if they're part of his entourage even after they leave the studio. Nick Waterhouse couldn't write "You Give Me Fever," but he is exactly the kind of artist who could give it to Peggy Lee.
Vocally, Waterhouse possesses the accessible timbre of the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach mixed with the delivery of Heart of Saturday Night-era Tom Waits. He's the kind of artist who would sound at home playing at both The Continental Club in Austin and a seedy Las Vegas night club.
In an economical 30 minutes, Holly packs in no particularly great songs, but it still manages to be a somewhat addictive listen, because every song is a respectable B to B+ in terms of pure listenability and fun.