taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

NICK DRIVER — Warm Is Your Color

Credit Nick Driver for getting out of the watered-down screamo scene while the getting was good, particularly since his new direction just makes more sense for an artist of his profile. As a refugee of Raleigh cardigan punkers Skywire, the ever versatile Driver’s keen melodic sensibilities just play more effectively as an acoustic pop singer/songwriter. With new label support Driver’s debut Warm Is Your Color effectively puts the emphasis on his strengths as a lively vocalist with a knack for simple, yet engaging guitar melodies. Most comparisons for Driver tend to include the name Jason Mraz and while the two artists’ voices have striking similarities, particularly with the familiar recitative style that both employ effectively, Driver hasn’t developed quite the same sense of the absurd that Mraz uses to create quirky, punfilled wordplay. A better comparison might be Eric Hutchinson, Matt Nathanson or any of the other solid songwriter –sons, though Driver’s songwriting displays a more refined sensibility than either. “Logged In” lays out the intricacies of dating in the digital age with the emphasis on building a solid foundation for the album, but Driver goes on to show some surprising vocal dexterity shortly thereafter with his alternately choppy speech and slick falsettos on “Send A Message.” Throw in a punchy acoustic riff with a bluesy hook and it’s easily one of the strongest tracks on the album. Driver doesn’t do much to diverge from this formula throughout the album, but if it works, why change it? Warm Is Your Color does falter into sappy, clich’-ridden love-pop — most notably “Lets Stay Together,” which is not an Al Green cover — but the album is strong enough to withstand a couple of missteps.