Personnel: Rob Douglas (vocals, double bass); Eric Jackowitz (vocals, drums, percussion); Carol Hatchett, Roberta Freeman, Kyle Stephens, Brit Manor (vocals); John Anderson (electric guitar); Robert Kenmotsu (flute); Ron Dziubla, Ralph Carney (tenor saxophone); Paula Henderson (baritone saxophone); Mike Olmos (trumpet); Adam Theil (trombone); Danny Eisenberg, Audie DeLone (piano); Josh Adams (drums); Andres Renteria (percussion).
Recording information: Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco, California; Valentine Recording Studios, North Hollywood, Californi.
Illustrator: Cris Cleen.
Dedicated as ever to synthesizing and replicating R&B-rooted sounds of the '50s and early '60s, Nick Waterhouse probably won't be recording retro-new jack swing in the 2030s. Prior to the release of his third album, he did cover a song released during the decade in which he was born, Sade's "Smooth Operator," but his version was pure 1963, the backing akin to a slinking, swampy fusion of Booker T. & the MG's and Henry Mancini. On Never Twice, Waterhouse likewise presents some chronological distortions that go beyond his throwback approach, like when he sings of "Playin' 'T.B. Sheets' on heavy repeat" on "Stanyan Street," a furtive shuffle conceived to resemble something that pre-dates Van Morrison's solo debut by a few years. Less of a stretch is a tumbling version of Bob Dylan's "Baby, I'm in the Mood for You," a song that first reached the public in 1965 through Odetta's recording. For the most part, this is a refinement of Waterhouse's stylist approach. All of the songs are solidly written and played, and the enjoyment of them is dependent on the listener's valuing of expertise and skill over creativity. Vocally, Waterhouse remains as spirited as he is studious, crooning and belting at all the appropriate moments with a little bit of swagger. One aspect that differentiates this album from the two prior Waterhouse full-lengths is the greater latitude granted to the band. Organist Will Blades and tenor saxophonist Ralph Carney are among the several musicians who take solos on nine of the ten cuts. "Stanyan Street" alone takes eight minutes to unfold with its four soloists. Not a measure of it is wasted. Waterhouse also allows space for kindred Leon Bridges on "Katchi," a raunchy, borderline cartoonish romp. ~ Andy Kellman