The moment I heard Nick Hakim’s voice, it instantly captivated me. I was struck by how effortlessly he was able to deliver his thoughts celebrating the ups and downs of love, relationships, loss and the struggles along the way. It came as another surprise to me when I found out he actually lives here in NYC, literally right under my nose. This was surely another case of “better late than never.” My anticipation for his debut full length, Green Twins, was rewarded with an album full of sensuality, psychedelic and soul. It filled a void that was missing, reminiscent of the first time I heard Maxwell croon out the opening notes of “Ascension,” or the experimental nature of Bilal’s shelved masterpiece, Love For Sale.
Here at Bowery Ballroom, Hakim set the mood. This performance wouldn’t be a singular, run of the mill performance. He invited us to embark on a journey through his inner most thoughts and dreams. There was no formula here, no script to follow. Hakim injected thoughtful improvisation, spirit and lifeblood into each word he sang.
From the reverent title track, to the feel-good tempo of “Roller Skates,” as well as my personal favorites from the album “Cuffed,” “Farmissplease,” and “JP,” Nick, in conjunction with his band cast a spell on everyone in the room, with very few moments of interjection from Nick himself. He came across as extremely humble when addressing the crowd, thanking them profusely for selling out the room, thanking his label, ATO Records, for the overwhelming amount of support they’ve given him over the years, as well as his girlfriend, Naima, for her unwavering support.
In the midst of the performance, Hakim gave way for his keyboardist to give a talkbox-laden rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” that left me completely enchanted. Most of the songs from Green Twins made an appearance in the set, but old favorites like “Cold,” and “I Don’t Know” also found their rightful place in the set list. Singing along with everyone in the crowd, word for word to “Cold” was almost like an out of body experience. Everyone even knew the points in the song where Hakim would whimper, whine, or yelp a certain way and hit it in the exact points they were on the recorded versions. It’s clear I wasn’t the only one in the room who had been obsessing over his music leading up to this point.
This album is just the next step for Hakim’s rising talent to emerge at the forefront of not only NYC based artists, but soulful musicians dedicated to authenticity and the individuality of their interpretation of their craft. Next time Nick Hakim comes to your town, don’t ask questions. Just go.
Article: Lesley Keller