Let me tell you about why Nick Hakim impressed me so much at Stereogum’s unofficial SXSW party.
You ever notice how a lot of retro soul musicians sound like parodies of the music they’re channeling and how they tend toward the sound of corny, innocuous late-night TV bands rather than capturing the essence of their inspirations? Hakim was not a cartoon. His songs were deep and bleary while somehow maintaining a subtle crispness. His vocals were authentically raw and passionate. Each player in his band was severely talented — drums, bass, keys, guitar — and they coalesced into grooves that felt like dropping the needle on an old LP. No shots at Leon Bridges, but the guy can come off like a historical reenactment, like soul with scare quotes, laboratory engineered to conquer the Grammys. Whereas Hakim’s music had the feel of fresh revelation, of a storm brewing in the soul. Why settle for Blues Brothers bullshit when you could have it this good?
Hakim’s performance in Austin closed with a dreamy power ballad “Bet She Looks Like You” — as in, “If there’s a God, I bet she looks like you” — a vision built from liquid guitar sounds, a sample-worthy drumbeat, and scratchy flirtations from Hakim himself. Today that song gets a video from Terence Nance, who also helmed Hakim’s great “The Light” video a few years back. It was filmed at The Kymberle Project in Brooklyn. Watch below.
Hakim’s debut album Green Twins is out 5/19 on ATO. Pre-order it here.