Review: The Nick Hexum Quintet – My Shadow Pages

Review: The Nick Hexum Quintet – My Shadow Pages

The Nick Hexum Quintet – My Shadow Pages
Track Listing:
1.) Once In Your Life
2.) Just Give It To Me
3.) Somewhere in the Middle
4.) Blame the Sky
5.) Tidal Wave
6.) The Dreamer
7.) Sideways
8.) You’ll Do It Again
9.) Waiting in Vain (Bob Marley Cover)
10.) Starry Eyes
11.) The Getaway
12.) Super Natural
13.) A Song For Driving

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: Oct 1st, 2013
Record Label: INgrooves/Fontana & What Have You Records
Website: The Nick Hexum Quintet Website

Group Background:
The Nick Hexum Quintet is the recently born side project of 311 front man, guitarist and vocalist Nick Hexum. While attempting to write songs for other artists over the years, Hexum and his brother Zack Hexum began collaborating with new musicians. Hexum later decided that the songs would be for his “for-fun jam band,” which eventually became The Nick Hexum Quintet and band’s debut album, “My Shadow Pages.” Hexum teamed up with pop-rock producer Jim Scott (Wilco, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carlos Santana) to record the album in just eight days.

Album Review:
My Shadow Pages is a huge, and refreshing, step away from the 311 sound. Gone are the layered and heavy guitars, distortion-heavy vocals, and hip-hop and reggae sounds. In their places is a mix of rock, jazz, pop and a splash of funk.

The album starts out with the Jack Johnson-sounding “Once in Your Life.” The song has a familiar “summer getaway” sound, led by guitar licks and layered vocal harmonies. “Sideways” is a dark story about getting caught-up in the craziness of Los Angeles. The keys and bass guitar-driven tune features a smooth jazz saxophone solo. Hexum doesn’t completely leave his reggae roots by covering Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain.” The Quintet turns the classic song into a smooth and stripped down R&B tune, with just electric guitar and vocals.

My Shadow Pages leaves Hexum vulnerable, in terms of vocals, songwriting and arrangements. While the album includes extensive vocal harmonies, it does not include vocal distortions (like 311 songs)—which, leaves the listener stuck with Hexum’s monotone voice. However, whatever is vocally lacking is more than made up by the album’s strong songwriting, arrangements and production.

The album flawlessly blends together keys, Hammond organ, simplified electric guitars, bass and the occasional saxophone into a smooth concoction of accessible songs. My Shadow Pages is an album that will require listeners to put on a good pair of headphones to truly appreciate the seamless arrangements.

My Shadow Pages is a welcomed, and refreshing, change of pace for one of rock-reggae’s most recognizable figures. The album is a collection of songs that explores Hexum’s musical influences and serves as an outlet for his diverse musical prowess. And, while My Shadow Pages is likely an album that will leave rock-reggae fans scratching their heads, it will catch the ear of Jack Johnson, G. Love, Ben Folds and Mat. McHugh fans.

Written & Reviewed By: Kit Chalberg

[Editor’s Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]