Recording information: Black Lodge; Nick's Apt, NY; Strange Weather; The Velvet Nipple; Uniform Recording.
Although he studied at Berklee College of Music and might come across as a young gun, Nick Hakim can be described as a somewhat diffident late bloomer. The singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist didn't plant his first foot forward as a musician until he was out of his teens. Within a few years, however, his first two EPs were in circulation, attracting listeners with uniquely old-soul ballads that were intimate yet mysterious. Hakim also opened for Maxwell and King and signed a deal with ATO, home to Alabama Shakes and Chicano Batman. He took his time with Green Twins, a full-length recorded over the course of three years. As a consequence, the songs sound more deliberate and defined compared to the EP material, which sometimes drifted to a point of near dissolution. Hakim still sounds inspired primarily by dazed, genre-blurring studio creations recorded no later than the mid-'70s -- psychedelic soul and funk, the works of slightly eccentric singer/songwriters -- or those who have either sampled or emulated them. Liberal reverb and relatively subtle sonic tricks are used for intensifying emotive sentiments and lending a wraith-like quality to Hakim's voice -- his achingly sweet leads and untethered howling backgrounds -- and his bristly guitar. Most of the songs evoke some combination of obsession, rapture, gratitude, and anguish. The whirling title track, spaced-out "Bet She Looks Like You," and easy rolling "Cuffed," all exemplary, indicate the profound effect of a committed relationship. The impact is conveyed in open-hearted lines like "I admit -- inside me lives fear," "If there's a god, I wonder what she looks like/I bet she looks like you," and "She taught me to make love with patience." The album's potent mix of soul-searching lyrics and spaced-out sonics lends itself to deep thought and accompanied stargazing. ~ Andy Kellman