Nostalgia 77

Everything Under the Sun

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When Ben Lamdin first started Nostalgia 77, he played the role of the mastermind producer, cutting and pasting snippets of soul songs together to make his own brand of hip-hop beats. Later he switched to a part-time player, adding his skills on guitar, piano, and drums as well as his compositional talents in jazz-laced numbers. For his fourth LP, Everything Under the Sun, Lamdin takes an instrumental backseat, contributing solely his songwriting, arranging, and production skills and letting others take over. What results is something that -- while it still retains some of that Nostalgia 77 groove found on The Garden -- fits much more comfortably in that kind of smooth jazz, lounge realm, where looking good and having the right drink in hand are key. The musicians involved with the album are talented enough, tapping out intricate rhythms and solos and staying tight and clean, but the whole thing is so slick, so cool, that it's hard to feel much affection towards it. It's safe, even during the improvisational sections, and singers Lizzy Parks and Beth Rowley, while they both have nice voices, seem a little too distant, a little too detached, to really draw the audience in, to make them believe in what they're saying. There are complicated lines, there are intelligent, mature arrangements, but Everything Under the Sun still comes across as a little naïve, and a little fake, like it's done by people who are simply trying to make a record like how they think one is supposed to sound, like how they've been told how one should sound, without knowing how one does sound. This shows, unfortunately, in the end result, and makes the album easy enough to skip over.

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