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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

New Nils Album "Feelin" Good" Review

Artist: Nils

Album: Feelin'  Good

Released: 2024

For those that are familiar with the contemporary smooth jazz scene Nils is a household name and one of a few measuring sticks of guitarists within the genre. He wrote the classic Pacific Coast Highway which was Billboard's song of the decade from 2001-2010. He followed that extraordinary achievement up with an 11 week run at number one on the Billboard charts with Jump Start in 2011. He has been a part of more than 20 Billboard top ten hits and recorded with The Temptations, Rick Braun and George Benson to name a few.

His latest release Feelin' Good is a twelve song set that is evidence that his creative well is far from dry. There are so many great guitarists across all genres of music, but what separates Nils from the pack within the smooth jazz genre is his ability to write a great song. He has consistently churned out top tier instrumental contemporary jazz from the day he burst onto the scene and appears set to do so for year to come.

The first single, That's The Way of The World is no exception to the standards that Nils clearly holds himself to. The production and his playing are top shelf on every front on this one. The melodies flow like a slow rolling river gently taking the listener around the turns without a hint of rough waters. His compressed clean guitar sound is easy on the ears allowing the listener to simply enjoy the perfectly crafted melodies that seem to just fall from the master guitarist's hands. The warm bass line is quite prominent in the mix adding a wonderful element to the musical conversation that this group is laying down.

The title track Feelin' Good is a standout. There is a simple bluesy aspect to Nils' playing that is not often found in the smooth jazz genre that makes for an easy listen for someone that isn't a musician. Instead of the dissonance that is found in musicians rooted in the world of jazz he chooses notes that do not pull at anything except the heart strings. I suspect there is a blues band somewhere in his past. He has the restraint and phrasing of a man of the blues but the polish required to function in contemporary jazz at the highest level. Larry Carlton comes to mind, which is always great company for a guitarist of any style.  Feelin Good shines a blinding light on this side of his playing. It is cut right from the Motown cloth and packaged perfectly.

Don't You Dare is a slow sizzle that is burning hot on a low flame. The band is locked in and supporting a stellar composition and performance. The interplay amongst the musicians is infectious at every turn. Again, choosing reasonably simple lines throughout makes for a very digestible piece of music. My only complaint about this track is that it had to end at 4:20. This is one that I would love to hear an extended live version of.

A fan of guitar based instrumental music will absolutely love this record. Nils has a way of getting his point across gracefully, without ever leaving the listener feeling fatigued from too much guitar. It is quite an accomplishment, being the focus of the entire album is the guitar. His playing and compositions are seasoned and mature. There are enough guitar-centric moments to let the other guitarists out there know he is a player, but not so much that he loses the listener that isn't a musician. It is a great listen whether you are scratching the surface and it's on in the background or you're doing a deep headphone dive into it. I highly recommend doing both, as it will expose both the depth and simple beauty of his music. Feelin' Good is the most recent chapter in the story of an exceptional musician that I highly recommend to all music fans.

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