It’s been a while since I’ve written about Nik Freitas. I continue to listen to his 2011 album Saturday Night Underwater, but things have been fairly quiet on the new music front since then. He did self-release a record called The Asterisk back in 2013, which flew completely under my radar. New To Here came out earlier in 2015, and I heard it back in October but never got a chance to review it.
Most will remember Freitas for his work with Conor Oberst on the album Outer South. That was a great ensemble piece, and a great intro for people who didn’t know Nik (or Taylor Hollingsworth OR Jason Boesel). It showed Nik’s knack for smart lyricism that continued on Saturday Night Underwater.
We’re a few years beyond that now, and while the intelligence has held over, New To Here has Freitas exploring new territory musically. The production is more bold than previous works, more assured. It seems he’s found his voice and figured out how to best compliment his particular sound. The tones can be deceptively sparse-minimalist in a way Phil Spector could appreciate.
My favorite tune is probably “Half Of It,” which starts off with a playful blend of bells and xylophone before turning to some heartfelt words about impending fatherhood “Just when I think my head is right, and I’m good with what’s in sight, it changes overnight.”
The record was recorded in Southern California, and you can feel Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys influence here and there, particularly on “Anyone Listening.” All the writing and recording was done by Freitas, but the album never feels like a myopic statement. Rather, the flow of the album and the songs themselves flow very organically.
Life changes generally lend themselves to some interesting creative choices, and there’s no bigger life change than becoming a parent. I hope that Nik’s journey forward brings us a lot more music, even if it comes to us as infrequently as every couple years. For now, check out New To Here on Bandcamp.