Singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, and former Kiss FM breakfast show producer Nathan Thomas has come up with a refreshingly modern R&B meets neo-soul meets hip-hop beats meets jazz collection of tunes with “Still Water”, opening with the way too short, but pretty sexy “Resilience”, with an urgency in his vocal style that is quiet impressive. His rich and soulful vocals are best showcased in the very personal and intimate title track (“A message to the man I was”) which has a hook to die for. I just can’t get enough of this utterly convincing, highly inimitable, slightly melancholy, but nevertheless reassuring tune which also boasts with a phenomenal background vocal arrangement and a thick production, courtesy of Simon S. and Mark Rapson for the brilliant Futuristica label in London, also responsible for the recent coup with Georgie Sweet.
There a more exceptionally rounded vocals on the very José James-ish (circa “Blackmagic”) “Peacemakers”, with a lot of jazzy undertones and wonderful, warm keys. Another stand-out track is “Sunblind”, another brilliantly executed neo-soul stepper which just won’t leave your ears. It opens with a keyboard intro straight out of heaven. I think Nathan’s voice is one of the most precious instruments out there at the moment. If you need more proof, check out the acoustic “Winters” where he is backed by guitar only. A truly beautiful ballad. “Namaste” could be out of the Frank McComb book; the midtempo Stevie-style groover is chock full of idiosyncratic backing vocals, paired with jazzy piano over a soul-drenched beat. Another gem.
Things get deeper with “Civil War”, another amazingly tight and honest soul number. With “Voodoo”, Nathan veers more toward Urban/Hip-Hop territory, but with enough aplomb which puts him miles away from the usual, pretty arbitrary stuff that’s out there in this particular genre. We also get some more thoughtful emotiveness on the album’s final cuts, the attractively intricate “Manifest” and staunch “Wilderness” with its 80s appeal dressed up in modern-day neo-soul spheres. Unfortunately, the album won’t be released on vinyl, but check it out on Nathan’s bandcamp site.