American-Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka is back with his 6th musical release in 10 years. Keeping up his strong and consistent flow of output, his new EP High Tide is out now, and we at RAWS have decided to review it track-by-track(-by-track).
All I Need
At a hiking pace, ‘All I Need’ springs to life immediately, with full and warm guitars bringing visions of forests and natural wonder. A song for all seasons, Nozuka’s husky tones are suited to chilly winter mornings, yet the sunny syncopation shines and springs like a Paul Simon song, and the close harmony backing adds more to the spectacle. In the hazy horizon, the electric guitar acts as a kind of fog as the mountainous image is completed. Not the only track on the EP begging to be added to a road trip playlist, ‘All I Need’ is nothing if not evocative.
There’s a lingering yearn for nostalgia in much of Nozuka’s music, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the ponderous ‘Hourglass’, which bears a striking resemblance to Family of the Year (and multi-award-winning movie Boyhood)’s ‘Hero’. The opening birdsong, and Nozuka’s soft delivery gives an air of gentle reflection, a mood that eagerly beckons in an early morning, though careful not to wake anyone unwilling to listen. Once again it’s tricky to imagine yourself anywhere other than a riverside lodge surrounded by pine trees, and it seems Nozuka is right at home here.
No Place In Mind
While the guitars in ‘All I Need’ and ‘Hourglass’ are fluid, full and carrying an almost legato sensibility, ‘No Place In Mind’ is a brisk, choppy attack from the get go. It doesn’t take long for it to fill out, however, and the layers upon layers carry Nozuka delicately – his delivery here smoothly blends each word together, while the falsetto birdcall pitted against the polyphonic layering of guitars is wonderfully reminiscent of early Ben Howard tracks. Nozuka does well to add space to the song, with each pause feeling natural and needed; with a drowsy, gentle mood, what is not needed is overcrowding.
Nozuka has a definite identity here, and a very complete image. Whether his experiences are familiar to you, or if you’re just looking for something simple to bring in the day, High Tide casts such strong imagery that you should not ignore.