Multi-talented writer and producer Nick Domingo drew inspiration for his debut album, released in 2022, from some of his favorite musical acts like Coldplay and Ed Sheeran. The inspiration is clear throughout, yet also the album still includes a solid foundation on which to build an interesting career. The instantly memorable ‘Midnight Drive’ is a solid, well crafted track with crisp production and an excellent crescendo which is cleverly held back for just a bit longer than expected, heightening its effect. Its best moment comes at the end though, when everything drops out but the muted, pulsating synths for the final 20 seconds, a moment where simplicity is actually quite affecting. This could well be an interesting path forward, using sparse production to great effect, while carving out an original path. Many of the best moments on the album come in its quieter, more subdued moments. The highlight of the project comes near the end with the dour, breakup-montage destined piano ballad ‘Diane’. Listening to it evokes images of a long term relationship ending, when you and your significant other have been through too much together to be angry, instead just filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness and dread. It is followed by the light, uplifting ‘Please Stand By’, an excellent moment of smart tracklist progression. 

There are moments here and there, however, that seem to stray from the general theme of the album. On opening track ‘The Prelude’, the sharp cymbals belie the moody vibe that flows through much of the project. ‘In Stereo’, while it has some interesting things going on, feels like neither instrument is given enough shine, causing it to feel a little bit overstuffed. The guitar work gets a small moment, however as I kept listening to it I couldn’t help but wish it had been blown out to 300%. A bit of unhinged, liberated musicality elevates so many projects as evident by the greatest projects from luminaries like Prince and would certainly provide more insight into the kind of musician Domingo aims to be moving forward.

While the album is certainly an enjoyable listen, within the current glut of streaming releases, it struggles to establish Domingo as a distinct voice in the marketplace. Emulating and drawing inspiration from pop artists who, in the latter part of their career, have not been doing anything significant to push the sound of pop forward, does hold the project back a bit. There is a clear talent present here that, if explored more and refined into a signature sound, would serve Domingo and his career quite well and allow him to establish himself as someone with a clear artistic vision. 


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