It doesn’t take long to realize that Chicago’s Rob Nicholas is classically trained – just a few bars into his new self-titled EP and you’ll be amazed with the professional level and depth of his talent. Classically trained artists easily impress us with their fretboard gymnastics, but often come up short in the melody department. Not so with Rob Nicholas. The five tunes on his EP are not only technically brilliant, but are also extremely accessible. I can’t recall that last time I’ve heard someone get away with such a mix of sophisticated pop, rock, blues, and jazz so successfully.
Rob Nicholas is bringing solo guitar back! There is some incredibly tasty lead work throughout this EP, and it stood out as one of the strong suits for me. But Rob Nicholas delivers in other areas as well – his vocals are great, at times sounding like Eric Johnson or Gavin DeGraw, but also reminding me of James Taylor during his quieter moments. Lyrically he is no slouch either, providing us with something more cerebral and compelling than the usual rubbish. The songs expertly blend acoustic and electric guitars, enhanced with some organ and progressive percussion. My favorite tracks are “Dare We Go” and “Searching”, probably the two most radio-friendly in the batch, but honestly every track is excellent. What I like most is that Rob Nicholas has found that magic balance that allows his expertise on the instruments to shine while not letting a memorable melody play second fiddle.
If you enjoy Sting, John Mayer, or Dave Matthews, you need to check out Rob Nicholas. This guy is incredible!
iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5