Nick Dakota - Vision
Discovered by renowned producer Robyn Robins, thirty year old Michigan native Nick Dakota’s debut album Vision features a dozen songs with many written by top flight Nashville songwriting talent and accompanied by some of the best live and session players that Music City has at its disposal. The album is geared for commercial success, but it reflects a lot of what compromises Dakota’s character as a man. The commercially oriented fare never outright panders to country music fans but, instead, presents musical and lyric elements sure to resonate with the widest of possible country music audiences. The album is a little over-extended with a dozen songs when, perhaps, only ten would do, but the added songs don’t weigh the release down much. Instead, Vision is as solid as of a debut as you’re likely to hear in any genre and, in modern country music, Nick Dakota stands out as one of the most exceptional talents to come along in some time.
It gets off to a great start with the jewel “We’ll Always Have Paris (Texas)”. This is a slightly elegiac track with a relaxed pace and Dakota shows a great knack for embodying the emotions of the lyric in his voice without ever being hamfisted about it. His turn on “How Cool is That?” possibly makes the whole album. He does a superb job of making the listener see the object of his affection depicted in the lyrics. The down to earth details mix nicely with much bigger, more general emotions and Dakota wraps his voice tightly around the instrumentation with great effect. He turns away from modern textures to recall a much more traditional country sound on the ballad “One Last Request”, but the steel guitar and patient unwinding of the track are far from its only merits. The true highlight of the track is Dakota’s profoundly moving, deeply emotive vocal and he elevates the fine lyrics to another higher level by virtue of his performance. “The Deep End” has a bluesy bite thanks to its insistent electric slide guitar licks and Dakota’s rugged vocal matches up with it very well. The chorus is one of the album’s best.
“Used” is a fantastic study in musical contrasts that impressively come together. The verses have a light touch, the instruments scattered and leaving a lot of space for the music to breathe, before the energy level spikes for another great chorus. “Rain Down Sunshine” has a a great rock vibe thanks to its combination of acoustic and electric guitars plus authoritative drumming that never plays a note too many. There’s a fabulous uplift in this track, as well, that will likely make it a live favorite. The album’s last song “Sledge Hammer” has an unique sound, slightly crazed bluegrass cut with a dash of rock music, and ends Vision with a colorful exclamation point. Vision establishes Nick Dakota as one of the genre’s promising young talents and songs like the finale pave the way for a wide future. Any lulls in the album are due to there being a few too many songs, particularly mid-tempo rock influenced country tracks, but those lulls don’t compromise the album too much.
8 out of 10 stars