Nick Dakota – Vision
Handsome, charismatic, and talented; Nick Dakota is not your average guitar player who can sing. Playing in bands since he was 16, Nick Dakota was born to do just this. Discovered by the famous producer, Robyn Robins (of Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band) Robins believes highly in the talents of Nick and the future of his music career. So much so that he has produced this debut album with top notch heavy hitters out of Nashville. “We feel Nick has great potential. The songs, vocal delivery, and overall production are great,” quotes Robins. “Vision” embodies the best of Country music and top quality production. Each track flows into the next creating a mood and experience honoring its title. Lee Hendricks (Eric Church’s bass player), Steve Hinson (steel guitar for Randy Travis) and Troy Lancaster (Tim McGraw’s guitar player) are just a few of the talent tsunami that bring “Vision” to life. If it’s any indication of how versatile he is, at first glance I thought without hesitation that this was a reggae artist. I couldn’t be more wrong, as there are no other indications of it besides his appearance. This is a rare thing in country, but you have to consider Nick Dakota’s rock roots, which can easily be mistaken for it since the 90s I suppose. But there are other rock influences in the sound on this, including the production values that Robyn Robins always brings. And that is a pretty big score right there, so rock in what ways it does, it must do so and does in its own respective ways. Most of it all works together but there are a few tracks that indicate he’d rather be playing one instead of two styles but you can’t tell which because he’s equally good at both. The CD starts with a couple of country heavy songs, so it takes some picking up before the rocker in him comes completely alive. “Fall All Over Again,” and “Heart On Fire” are actually quite alike but very separate from the rest of the music. But things pick up on “How Cool Is That,” and stay the course pretty well from there. At first the acoustic guitar fools but then it starts to rock and turns out to be a good humored combo as both sides of him start to really shine. It’s very catchy well balanced. “How Much I Love You” is a lighter sort of soft rocker to be expected and not as good as the former but still not a bad track either. The same goes for “One Last Request,” but it has something more going for it, with a singer/songwriter twist.
This is where the album picks up. “Rain Down Sunshine” shows how versatile Nick Dakota and his chosen group of veterans can be. This is a throwback in both country and rock circles with a bit of groove thrown in. Kind of funky in its own little way. I rate this up there with the best in the set. This is followed-up by the lackluster but still charming “Past You and Me,” which still serves well as a prelude the what I think is the best track on offer. It’s called “Sledgehammer” and it’s brilliant. This is a title that has been used for a big hit or two in the past, most notably by Peter Gabriel and BTO. But Dakota proves his own use of the title to be fair game in its own right, as this isn’t some average piece. It’s really a killer track with everything the album has going for it, written all over it. “The Deep End” is a lot of fun, especially the cool steel guitar which takes it over the top. I hold this one up there with the best three or for tunes. But I can’t say the same for “Too,” but he gets back to business before it’s all over, on the final track “Used,” which describes how anyone can feel. And that really is a testament to any song. Where some run the risk of breaking country and rock barriers, Dakota doesn’t display a lot of fuss and bother to put them together, which can have the purists really looking hard at him in either direction, but should not have any problem with because it’s all a very seamless effort. From the production skills of Robyn Robins, right down to the selected musicians that make this album shine beyond rock and country guidelines.