NICK GILL: Waves are Only Water

The sheer number of singer/songwriters trying to break into music can make it difficult for one to stand out without a clear differentiating factor. Enter Nick Gill.

[By Rachel McFarland]

Nick Gill is a singer/songwriter out of Nashville whose new album, Waves Are Only Water, is out now. His differentiating factor is his voice. It’s a distinctive voice that is catching and full of maturity, texture, and understanding. It’s the kind of voice that lets you know it’s seen a thing or two in life.
Except there’s one thing- Nick Gill is only 20 years old.

So how does someone of his age create a sound well above his years of experience? The answer lies in parts: part natural talent, part evolution, and, perhaps most importantly, part Grammy award-winning producer.

Nick Gill’s new album, “Waves Are Only Water”, isn’t his first. On 2008’s “Through The Straight and Narrow”, there were hints of the type of musician he could be. His deep natural vocals peaked through, waiting to live up to their potential. Then Nick left home in Alabama for the saturated music market of Nashville.  He teamed up with Grammy award winning producer Ed Cash, who’s worked with artists such as Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, and Amy Grant.

Working with Cash proved to be the tipping point- Nick’s sound on “Waves Are Only Water” has evolved tremendously. Tracks like “Risky Business” offer up a slower, darker groove, picking up the melancholic thread laid before him by artists like David Gray and Jonathan Rice, further highlighting his musical growth. His vocals are deep and buttery, rich with a confidence that betrays his age and his music stylings are more focused with his natural ability further developed. There are influences from the likes of modern male singer/songwriters like Josh Rouse, Josh Kelly, Matt Nathanson and earlier John Mayer. The ‘singer’ part is highlighted well on “Dawn”, where he sounds eerily similar to Mat Kearney. “Row” highlights the focus Nick and Ed Cash placed on the ‘songwriter’ part, with lyrics like: “Waves are only water/easily broken without a bother”, a simple yet poignant line that lends itself to the album title. The whole album has a redemptive quality, even on the tragic song “How It Feels (To Lose A Friend)”, a lilting, rocking vibe with bittersweet lyrics.  He manages not to overdo it, yet still gets the tone across in a heartbreaking way.  The result is a complexity not usually seen with his age and an album that feels too short and leaves you wanting more.


The evolution of Nick Gill since his earlier works is quite remarkable, and Ed Cash’s touch makes it possible to forget age and instead focus on the music, giving this album a refined, radio-ready sound.  Each song is perfectly produced yet not over done. It’s easy to imagine each track stripped down to just Nick and his guitar, and still sound just as satisfying. This album is a prime example of how, like a movie director pulling a great performance out of an actor, a producer can find ‘the thing’ in an artist and pull it out of them.  Nick Gill’s natural abilities are evident; Ed Cash brought them to the forefront and fine-tuned them, making for a pitch perfect album.

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