Nick Monaco Half Naked on LP
Well, well, well, the ever evolving, always intriguing Nick Monaco returns with his latest opus, Half Naked. His Freak Flag lipstick isn't even really all that dry from his debut album Mating Call, but Nick is at it again, bearing more of himself than he has ever before. With dance music today, some think it superficial with so many musicians hiding behind songs since they are simply songs for the club, songs to make other people dance, but not Nick Monaco. On Half Naked, Nick steps a few feet further into his songwriting than ever before, striving for substance by diving deep within and writing these songs for himself. He reveals more, confidently embracing vulnerability, and explores how much more of himself he can be. If Mating Call was Nick dipping his feet into the water, Half Naked is Nick unabashedly diving right in.
The album opens with "Conversation Piece" an electric jazzy tune thematically driven by a lover's suspicion that there might be someone else in their partner's world. "Physical Therapy" sets the album on fire with Nick's strong percussive vocal experimentation, a song that activates the imagination, hypnotizing and drawing you deeper into the album's intimate embrace. On the spacey "Somewhere Along the Line," Nick floats along with doubt and a feeling of being lost, but still stumbles upon the strength to keep going, with the track exploding to achieve a satisfying dramatic subtlety. The titular track "Half Naked" is a sexual song with the feeling of a bedroom's private innocence layered with vulnerability, intimacy and confidence. With the song "Thin Air," Nick makes up the perfect person, but struggles with this fiction, and you can hear it with the raw, beautifully metallic clash of the high hats. The piano driven "Bathwater" is a discordantly intimate track about escaping problems, but coming to terms with the fact that you can help yourself if you listen to yourself, a feat easier said than done.
Featuring a remarkable list of collaborators, but more so homies, Nick brings these talents together to deliver his strongest body of work to date, one that oozes intimacy with every note. David Marston's magic on guitar contributes to an undeniable weight to the sound of the album, and good friend Roland Harper once again lends his sultry vocals to Nick on the imaginative "Roily Polly." Rounding out the talented roster of collaborators is Richard Kennedy of Hercules & Love Affair acclaim on the R&B ballad "For Some Reason." Monaco is not afraid to fail or make mistakes, and this fearlessness allows him to get the most out of his instrumentation, and he certainly accomplishes something musically unique on Half Naked. It all feels very natural, and you can hear the greater confidence Nick has attained through touring and his relentless drive to produce in the studio. So, sit back, open your ears, maybe take your clothes off and listen as Nick Monaco starts to almost bare it all.