6/30/14

Dwight and Nicole: Unchanneled Talent

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DWIGHT & NICOLE
Shine On
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TV viewers might recognize Nicole Nelson from The View, where she did a stunning version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." That's on her new album with Dwight Richter and the two of them are obviously quite talented. That's the good news. The bad is that this Burlington, Vermont duo hasn't really found a discernible groove. Richter's tastes are eclectic–Roy Orbison, funk, R & B, rock, jazz…. He's pretty good at drawing inspiration from all these roots, but he doesn't put his stamp on any of them. "Smile," for instance, has a splash of reggae but that's it–just enough to make you damp, not enough to soak you in the talent pool. Ditto "Plead," which could have crunched with some serious grunge, but instead crackles like rice cereal. There are three really good songs on this album, Nelson's Cohen cover, her cool jazz "Colorful Girls," and–my personal favorite–"Saturday." The last of these is bouncy, infectious folk-pop and it shines because she and Richter keep things simple and let the tune drive the arrangement. Too many of the tunes try too hard to impress and in so doing, sound generic. Nelson has a supple and powerful voice and, when he's on, Richter is as smooth as silk. I can't help but feel, though, that Nelson's m├ętier is jazz and that Richter simply needs to find his own voice instead of channeling influences from here and there. I know it's a cut-and-paste world these days, but not all collages work. –Rob Weir

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