311 songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Nick Hexum has ventured into solo artist territory, releasing a collection of songs with his new project, the Nick Hexum Quintet.
Next week will see the release of My Shadow Pages, Hexum’s long-awaited solo debut and his first officially-released music outside of 311’s expansive catalog.
First thing’s first: the music of Hexum and his Quintet is not merely a collection of 311 b-sides or songs that would easily fit on any number of the platinum-selling alternative band’s records. Rather, My Shadow Pages is made up of a diverse array of styles, incorporating eclectic influences, impressive musicianship and Hexum’s unmistakable vocal delivery for the album’s thirteen tracks.
For this project, Hexum employed the skills of his brother, Zack (on guitar/saxophone/keyboards), drummer Gary Novak, Andres Rebellon and keyboardist Luke Miller, and the five apparently had no problems gelling as a cohesive unit.
Musically, there’s a lot to like about My Shadow Pages. ‘Just Give Me’ is a laid-back number with island grooves and some great keyboard work, ‘Somewhere in the Middle’ incorporates some John Mayer-ish guitar work with Hexum’s talk-rap vocals, and you’ll find yourself coming back to ‘Blame the Sky’ often.
‘Blame the Sky’, in particular, is highlighted by its steady rhythm and one of the album’s strongest hooks. The bridge in the warm and upbeat ‘Tidal Wave’ is almost free-form jazz, synth battling a heavy bass sound for the listener’s attention.
It’s apparent while listening to this record that Hexum really had a lot of musical ideas flowing through his head that didn’t quite fit in the realm of 311’s music – and channeling that creativity in this way really pays dividends. There’s a strong sense of experimentation spread across these 13 tracks, and even when a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Waiting in Vain’ pops up, it’s more of an ‘interpretation’ than a true ‘cover’.
‘Super Natural’, the album’s single, makes its appearance as the penultimate track. Another song with a theme of love, positivity and generally being happy, it’s another of the album’s strongest moments.
As stated earlier, My Shadow Pages is a solid album of eclectic, jazzy alternative/reggae with enough of an original sound to differentiate it from Hexum’s work in his ‘day job’, 311.
With planning to release a new album of its own on March 11th, 2014 (311 Day), the release of this record demonstrates that Hexum is going through a very creative period in his life, and the result is My Shadow Pages – an album that should be right up the alley of 311 fans everywhere.
Stay in-tune with the project at its official Facebook page – and as a heads-up, the Quintet has an October residency at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood (click here for more information).