Justin Nozuka

You I Wind Land & Sea

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Justin Nozuka’s sophomore effort is a warm and soft but hardly subtle set of love songs, songs that are wistful and soul-searching and fall somewhere between Jeff Buckley and David Gray. What’s surprising is the singer had just turned 21 as the album saw release, and yet he holds his own amongst his pop-chart-meets-coffee house competition by playing up youth’s pros (a heart still wide open, not jaded at all) and playing down the cons (no puppy love or irresponsible relationships here). His distinguishing characteristic is right there in the album’s title as everything Nozuka communicates is big, deep, and fervent. Breakups leave him a “Soulless Man” and the world is filled with “Hollow Men” while his own “heart beats fast with tenderness,” which is underlined by acoustic guitar and plaintive cello. Not sensible mood music, but this heart-on-the-sleeve stuff isn’t fluff, both as Nozuka’s soulful voice adds enough depth to take him seriously, and when he marries Justin Timberlake-like attitude with Van Morrison-like vamping on the hooky “Carried You,” it’s downright filling. Widening the spectrum are a couple bluesy numbers that add needed grit plus the leadoff single “My Heart Is Yours” which effectively employs some gospel choir vocals to drive its passionate point home.

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