The 21st century has seen a number of revolutions, among them the independent release of material – music, literature, film, art, etc… – from a variety of people who you more than likely would never have met before. Last year, the number one album at Team Hellions was an independent release, something I never saw coming. The stigma that comes with the independents, that many cling to, is that you’re sacrificing quality. The more independent releases I listen to, the more I find this to be completely false.
Nick Flora is one of those independent artists, releasing great records and touring his heart out. He has been at it since he was a teenager, which comes through on his records, displayed through mature songwriting and instrumentation. Among Nick’s talents is his ability to write catchy as hell pop/rock songs, and then transition them into beautiful singer/songwriter ballads, channeled through influences like Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, and Steve Winwood. If you had to pin his voice down it sounds like the love child of Randy Newman and Steve Winwood. Nick’s ability to write really great lyrics is another testament to his fantastic musical chops; on his sophomore album, Hello Stranger, Nick goes from riffs like, “like a shark attack with t-shirts in the back” on the opening track, “Presence of Greatness,” to “love without the risk holds no reward” on the track “Tired of Me.”
For his third album, The Re-Introduction of Nick Flora, Nick culled material from new experiences in traveling, thoughts and ideas to make this record wholly new, in a way that’s like introducing a new Doctor on Doctor Who. In a sense, this is a new Nick Flora, fresh from a fictitious death, and that calls for a “re-introduction.”
Working with producer Andrew Osenga, Nick has produced twelve of his best tracks yet. The album kicks off with the up tempo pop/rock tune, “The Reintroduction.” Nick’s acoustic guitar here is airy, but sounds big, almost like it’s electric. The backing tracks add a whole new element to the song itself, while the drums make it danceable. Reinventing yourself never sounded better, especially when you can sing along to it. The next track, “Hard Man to Love,” is a track that is so ego stroked, it’s not hard to project this song on to friends, or that punk that stole your girlfriend in college. The electric distortion helps to portray a character seems larger than life, but is completely believable. “Lost at Sea” is the album’s best story song, about a survivor who’s soul is still at sea, with the companions that he lost. The sounds of the sea are littered in the background, while a lonely accordion plays the character on perfectly.
Flora’s strongest track is the lament, “Nobody Gets Out Clean;” it opens with a booming chorus of “ooohs,” in a style that sounds like something a Christian Rock band would do. Instead, he takes it deeper though, acknowledging the imperfections of the lives we lead and the struggles we all share. It’s the best most non-Christian like song you’ve ever heard. That sounds strange, but it truly is a marvel to the aural senses.
The Re-Introduction of Nick Flora is full of situations that are close to the human heart, full of rich experience, and a creative vigor. These songs are fresh, composed with wit, beauty, and an honest heart; all of these elements are sorely missing from radio and most pop music today. That’s why Nick Flora is a rarity, but one that shouldn’t stay shaded, one that more people need to know about. You’ll certainly feel sad when the minutes run out of record; you’re going to hit play as soon as it’s over.
Album Rating: Buy It on CD or Vinyl!
Listener Co-efficient: Active Listen