Jazz guitarist Nils is back in 2018 with a new album of fresh tracks for your enjoyment. I became aware of his style on the the 2005 release, Pacific Coast Highway.
By the way, if you have not heard the title track, this is an absolute JAM. It has the distinction of being the most heavily played track in the smooth jazz format over the past ten years. It is also featured in our world famous Smooth Jazz Mix Series.
He has released a total of eight albums, while also performing on some memorable projects.
In 1998, Nils won the Platinum Record Award for guitars on the Phoenix Rising album by the Temptations.
If you are working with the Temptations, you MUST be doing something right!
The new album, Play, releases on March 16th, and it is 12 tracks of stellar lead guitar.
“This album is all about the love I have for playing my instrument and the love I felt from all the wonderful friends who stepped up when I reached out to them and helped me take this new music to the next level,” Nils says. “The wonderful result is that we put together a bigger band with a lot more horns than ever before, and a collection that stylistically allowed me to stretch out into different areas. In the spirit of capturing the meaning behind the album title, I wanted to show a richer spectrum of what I can do musically and have a lot of fun playing.”
Review – Nils Album “Play”
The album kicks off with Coast To Coast. This is a strong uptempo song that showcases Nils’ guitar expertise. It reminds me a little of a George Benson style track, with a funk groove, and stellar guitar licks. After all, he did record a duet with Benson in 1999 called Yesterday’s Dream.
We Got Love is up next, and it is a remake of the Babyface track off the Return Of The Tender Lover album. Some tracks lend themselves for an instrumental version, and this is definitely one of them. Nils takes over the lead with his guitar, and you can still sing along with the backing vocals.
Next is Straight Down The Line, and it just happens to be the first single off the set. It is a straight uptempo groove with a little Blues feel to it.
Uptempo Blues? I know, right? You will understand what I mean once you hear the track.
Are you ready for a sensual slow jam with a sultry trumpet solo? Sway will fit that bill perfectly. Everything just works together here…the backing vocals, the piano, the horns, and of course Nils’ guitar!
If you are looking for a track to get you up and going in the morning, then Play It is for you. Uptempo beat, but a cool, laidback guitar style makes this a unique track. You can groove to it anyway you want! This is a track you listen to and you say to yourself, “Man, he is a GOOD guitar player.”
At first when I saw the title of the next track, Goldfinger, I assumed it was his take on a James Bond song. It could not be further from the truth. Goldfinger is a track that you can listen to after a long day at work. It has a soothing quality that I think you will enjoy.
The track California is up next. This one has a funk base, and it is also a great showcase of Nils’ guitar skills.
Talk about a funk base…So Get On Up is a party for the “Grown Folks”. This is family reunion type stuff. It has a mid-’80’s flow, and I am sure you will be groovin’ in your seat as reminisce on times gone by.
Here is the second remake on the set. It is a classic from one of my favorite artists. Careless Whisper is up next, and Nils is absolutely working that guitar. There are also some nice vocal ad-libs toward the end of the song.
We pick up the pace again with Off To The Races. There is a nice synergy here between the guitar, the piano, and the horns. It is almost like a fusion band in a jam session. They break it down two-thirds of the way through, and that is a nice change of pace.
Voices In The Dark is next, and it is a straight up slow jam. Turn out the lights, get your favorite scented candles, and just let the groove take you to that place….
The set concludes with Fire of my Heart. The track has a different sound than the rest of the songs on the album, but it is a great closing song. I can imagine myself walking away into the distance as the song is playing. It has a New Age feel to it, especially at the beginning.
As far as guitar work goes, Nils is someone you should add to your music collection OR your streaming playlist.
Play drops March 16th, so go check it out.