If you close your eyes and pipe up this debut album from Peoria, Illinois-based Nick Sizemore, you will find yourself slowly drifting back to a time and place some 60 to 70 years detached from the present. It’s a place where beatniks roam the open highways, with all of their worldly belongings stuffed into one bag, and only some spare change to their name. They bed down in neon-lit motor inns on the side of two-lane east-west highways, and bum cigarettes on street corners, like characters in a Kerouac novel, or a Roger Miller song.
On the surface, it may seem all poetic and alluring. But it’s in this world where souls get lost, never finding their place or calling despite their tireless search, where dreamers stay just one step behind their dreams, and their bad decisions leave broken hearts and failed relationships strewn in their wake like the contents of a suitcase let loose from its motor coach. Or as Nick Sizemore says, it’s Where The Lonesome Roam.
Capturing a classic country sound with a faraway feel, Nick Sizemore carried a handful of his original songs into the studio with producer Brett Robinson—best known as the steel guitarist for Whitey Morgan and the 78’s—and captured just about the perfect mood for this material. Morose and melancholy, Nick Sizemore seizes the essence of the sad country song both in writing and sound.
Along with Sizemore’s original works, he also gets some help from Brett Robinson, who co-writes a couple of the albums tracks (“He’ll Never Know” and “If You Stay”), as well as composing one of the album’s most notable compositions, the haunting “Slow Way Down,” which really captures the heart of Nick Sizemore’s approach to country. Joe Stamm of the Joe Stamm Band also appears in the writing credits with one of the album’s other standouts, “High Road Home.”
And when you hear Sizemore put his spin on the Hank Williams classic “Pictures From Life’s Other Side,” you would swear he was born to this earth to sing this song. His boomy, vintage vocal style captured in a church setting leaves you with chills, and his rendition of Jack Clement’s “Let’s All Help The Cowboys (Sing The Blues)” popularized by Waylon Jennings isn’t half bad either.
But it’s Sizemore’s original songs like “Someone Else’s Arms” that put you in touch with his greatest creative gifts. This song could have been sung and written in the 60’s by some of the titans of country music’s past, with Sizemore venturing way down in the vocal register where the very pit of despair is tapped.
This is not country music to get your hips shaking and your boots scooting across the floor. The right mood and a little patience is required to appreciate what’s happening here. Nick Sizemore also feels like he is still searching for the ultimate sweet spot in his voice. When he sings low, it’s quite powerful. And he sings well in other registers as well. But you feel like you’re listening to two or three separate singers instead of one by the end of this record.
Nonetheless, this is a very interesting and auspicious debut from Seizmore, and a cool record to help launch Brett Robinson’s Alabama Sound Company record label.
1 1/2 Guns Up