Nick 13

[Sugar Hill]

Twelve years ago, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness released his country-tinged first solo album—and thanks to Ness’ distinctive, SoCal-sunbaked voice, it still sounded a lot like Social Distortion. Nick 13, whose Berkeley-based psychobilly band Tiger Army is cut from the same cloth as Social D, gets a very different result on his own self-titled solo debut. A straightforward traditional effort co-produced by roots luminaries James Intveld and Greg Leisz, Nick 13 finds its creator adopting a pleasant, woe-is-me lilt and sounding like a cross between Chris Isaak and Slim Whitman. In fact, a little grit would go a long way on this set of sentimental honky-tonk tunes. The crack team of stellar musicians keeps things interesting, including the likes of Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins on fiddle and pedal steel masters Leisz and Lloyd Green. The proceedings make for a relaxing shore leave from Nick’s full-time Army, but one can’t help but miss the thrill of combat. –J. Thompson

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