Born in Wyoming and raised in Missouri to the sounds of Jazz, Bluegrass and R&B, Nichols landed in NYC to study fashion and, ultimately, the artsy circle he hung with led him to London and the then-vogue, bass-driven sounds of Reggae and Dub. His Capitol debut, Lover's Knot, is a cult classic, balancing perfectly all of the sounds he had consumed into an endearing yet subtle amalgamation. After getting dropped by Capitol, Nichols headed to Jamaica to record the Reggae-meets-Country Just What Time It Is. On Easy Now, Nichols new Rykodisc release, the singer/songwriter has streamlined the eclecticism a little, leaving the focus on his smooth, spooky songwriting. The record has the fluidity and warmth of an old school R&B album, with Nichols' sly and intimate vocal approach brushing up sensually against the tracks like James Taylor being backed by some old Philly Soul instrumentalists. While more mature than past efforts, the laid back nature of Easy Now still manages to put disparate sounds together and make it seem like that's the way it was always meant to be.
At the Southgate House on Sunday.-- M.B.