Nick Zubeck (Guelph, Ont.) — Playing for a hometown crowd, Guelph’s Nick Zubeck delivered the perfect set for a sweltering afternoon, transporting the audience to much cooler places. A connection to the natural world comes through Zubeck’s jazz-pop/art rock blend creating a whole new sound that could be described as ‘landscape rock.’ Reminiscent of some of Mark Knopfler’s softer material, the set was both simple and intriguing.
Guelph’s own Nick Zubeck is no stranger to the music business, having previously released five full length albums and worked with a long list of very talented artists over the last fifteen years. Nick has just released his his first solo album in seven years entitled Skydiving. Nick’s songwriting touches on all aspects of life, never shying away from the tough stuff. Having lost both parents to cancer and a brother to alcoholism, Nick has used songwriting as a release, and the outcome is powerful.
Skydiving opens with an instrumental “City of Satellites” setting the pace for the slightly emotional, yet relaxing tracks ahead. As you move your way through the album with songs like “Bound By Time”, “Secrets” and “Hunting in Heaven” you are met with relaxing, light sounds and powerful piano. It brings a sort of serenity over you. The title track “skydiving” is sure to be a favourite with its familiar piano, beautifully enhancing this already beautiful love ballad.
Skydiving in its entirety is the perfect blend of raw emotion and a prim and polished sound. It’s the perfect rainy day album. It definitely showcases Nick Zubeck’s very obvious talent for songwriting and giving us nothing but honesty in all its beauty, no matter how tough. I highly suggest adding Skydiving to your playlist.
Nick Zubeck has seen a lot. As a musician, he's performed with Polmo Polpo, Great Lake Swimmers, Barzin, and Sun Kil Moon, while also maintaining his own solo career. In his personal life, he's dealt with the loss of both parents and a brother, and raised a son as a single father -- all before turning 30. That Zubeck spends time thinking about doubt, then, shouldn't come as a surprise, and it serves as a driving force for his upcoming solo venture, Skydiving.
Releasing via Caldo Verde Records on March 11, Skydiving is Zubeck's fifth solo album, his first since 2009. This exclusive premiere of Skydiving track "Shoot Straight," which gives a taste of the genre-defying material Zubeck worked up with producer Sandro Perri.
"This song deals with the idea of doubt, which is a recurring theme throughout the album," Zubeck says. "The abstract chorus lyric -- 'I should just shoot straight into the sun, the sun is the one, the moon a reflection' -- came from a discussion I had with a former neighbor who was studying philosophy. He was really into the Greek philosopher Plotinus, and told me about his major idea of 'One' -- beyond all ideas of being and non-being, transcendent, containing no division, existing in all of us. He talked about how he compared it to the sun, and the moon to our soul -- a reflection of the 'One.' Very abstract, but something about it resonated with me and led me to this idea that doubt is divisive and making choices is a way to combat doubt."
There is beauty within the music while there are revealing truths about secrecy within the lyrics. Nick Zubeck new single “Secrets” from his upcoming album Skydiving, explores the idea of personal secrets from an interesting perspective, the lyrics are not criticising one for having general secrets but Zubeck illustrates the destructive nature of keeping deep secrets is for oneself and for the other in a personal relationship.
The track develops with Zubeck integrating folk, post-jazz and pop creating this smoothing composition albeit with intermittent raucous and menacing sounds. The chorus “Does anybody have a secret? I can see in your eyes, they give it away I won’t steal it, but don’t feel you’ve got to Carry it down to the grave” shows the division secrets can cause between people because when one has already observed and realised the other person is keeping something back from them.
It causes the principle of trust to be damaged and trust is the integral part for relationships while the lyrics also revert back to the song’s fundamental theme of the inessential need of holding on to secrets. Nick Zubeck was hired to play with Sun Kil Moon on a European tour with Barzin in April 2014 where they were opening for Mark Kozelek in Padova, Italy. Mark Kozelek emailed Zubeck 3 days later asking him to join Sun Kil Moon on the road. It should not then come as a surprise that Skydiving is out on March 11 via Mark Kozelek’s Caldo Verde Records.
Guelph, ON-based singer-songwriter Nick Zubeck has been on a collaborative streak over the last few years, creating music with Polmo Polpo and touring as part of Sun Kil Moon, but he's setting his sights back on solo work for a new album this spring. Before Skydiving arrives in full later this year, though, Exclaim! has got your exclusive first listen to the first single "Secrets."
Far from your average folk singer, Zubeck incorporates post-jazz pop sounds and elements of art rock into his eclectic style of songwriting. Those fun, bright and groove-laden textures weave their way seamlessly into one another throughout the new track, though there are subtle, slightly more ominous themes at play, as well.
Whether it’s recognized as genius, dismissed as too experimental or judged to lack the immediacy that we all seem to require in today’s digital age, Tracker is a resounding success and one that should be embraced from coast to coast.
Toronto's Nick Zubeck pours his all into a multi-layered collection of ambitious, eclectic pop songs on his excellent third record, Tracker. "Sentimental Devil" recalls the slacker confidence of Steely Dan, an effortless dose of catchy pop smarts delivered like it's no big deal. There's a similar vibe to the cool and easy soul of "Body Parts," which lingers breezily on jazzy tones before its soaring choruses reorient listeners like a friendly guide. Zubeck often measures his voice, ensuring that he is tangible in multi-layered mixes. In some cases, such as the 4/4 glory of "Tip of My Tongue" or the emotional charge of "Cherry Sunshine," he's easy to find. In something like "Common Cold" or "Warm Blood" though, it's interesting to hear him distorted or blending into the sound, as if his words are an additional instrument. With an alluring distance, Nick Zubeck keeps tones warm and bubbly on Tracker. (Independent)
From The Toronto Star:
Though the sweetly cosmic title might suggest an homage to an era that was being trivialized by fake psychedelia even as it was unfolding, this Toronto singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist – if you're familiar with the Great Lake Swimmers or Polmo Polpo, you've probably heard Zubeck – has created an exquisitely nuanced song that will make you wish it had come out at the height of summer. One of at least half a dozen standouts from what is fast becoming one of our favourite albums of 2008.
Great sounds keep coming from the great white north. The latest is Tracker, the new CD from Toronto based rocker, Nick Zubeck. It’s an eclectic mix of well written, well played and produced tunes that don’t hesitate to push boundaries and take chances. Zubeck plays a variety of guitars, a banjo, lap steel, and other instruments as well as singing lead vocal. He wrote all the tracks, some by himself, some with bassist Darren Wall. The production is tied together by experimental post rocker, Sandro Perri, who adds his unique electronic touch as a player on several tracks while doubling as producer for the project.
Sentimental Devil is perfect case in point. Perri’s moog blends with a great percussion section to kick off a rocker that morphs into a swinging tune highlighted by Ryan Driver’s flute and Zubeck’s clever lyric. Zubeck doesn’t shy away from creating new tones and shimmering sounds. Body Parts is a jazzy song that features a great Rhodes track from Robbie Grunwald and smooth guitar work from Zubeck. His vocal is reminiscent of Todd Rundgren’s best and the production is stellar. Darren Wall’s double bass sets the tone for Track and Field while Grunwald contributes a strong part on Grand Piano. Tip of My Tongue starts with a brisk acoustic riff from Zubeck before the horns and mellophone kick in to drive the song home. Blues and Reds is my favorite cut on the album. Zubeck shares vocal duties with Olenka Krakus in jazzy, melancholy piece that features spare but incredibly tasty instrumentation. Zubeck writes witty, intelligent lyrics that stand up to repeated listening while uncovering depths of meaning.
The more I listen to Tracker, the more I like it. It’s intricate and unusual sounds reveal an artist unafraid to take risks and unwilling to bend to the latest pop whim. Zubeck is a unique talent whose music demands to be listened to over and over. Each listen reveals new depths, new awakenings that delight and excite the discerning listener. Nick Zubeck and Tracker are worth a listen. Actually, they’re worth a lot of listens.
A mellifluous acoustic album with piano notes and guitar chords that shimmer like the sun off a rippling pond while billowing lap steel wails accompany song writing and arrangements that are as fluid as a mountain stream. Zubeck has a gentle, crooning voice articulating clever, well-written lyrics that reminds me of John Denver. "The Dying Days of the Sun" and "Freefall From the Fifth Floor" are fine examples of skilful lyrics and expert song arrangement that speaks to the heart, instilling uplifting solace even when the lyrics go a bit sombre. There are also instrumentals like "Jennifer's Theme," a dreamy sentimental piece, whereas "The Puzzling" and "We'll Miss You Mrs. Butler" are a bit more light hearted and quirky, with various cute mechanical noises, yet while still retaining the shimmering acoustic sweetness. A sunshiny wholesome listen, A Meek Spectacle is not so much meek as it is whimsical, and maybe a bit playful, even when Zubeck uses darker lyrical themes. (Independent)
Two songs into his July 24th concert at New York's Town Hall, singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, leading his sepulchral combo Sun Kil Moon, made a comment about the lighting on stage. The few red and blue spotlights overhead, he said in a dry rumble through acres of reverb, were too bright. Could the guy at the console in the balcony dial them back?
Kozelek, the former leader of the Nineties prairie-Gothic band Red House Painters, was already hovering on the margins of the evening: sitting on a chair to the far left of his musicians – drummer Eric Pollard, electric guitarist Nick Zubeck, keyboard player Chris Connolly and guest cellist Isabel Castelvi – and at an unusual distance from his own microphone, as if trying to deliver this performance from another room. When those lights dimmed, Kozelek seemed to recede further into dusk.
The effect was actually a dramatic reduction of distance: a pulling across Kozelek's bridge of baritone sighs, through all of that echo, to the blunt, stormy center of his stories and the small, effective explosions of instrumental detail lining his telling. When Pollard, who played with brushes, put some wrist into a snare beat or tom-tom accent, it went off like a gunshot in a well. After Zubeck broke out a rare solo in "Dogs," from the latest Sun Kil Moon album, Benji, Kozolek drolly noted the outsized effect of its simple, fuzzy turbulence on his barbed-hush memoir of teenage sexual awakening to the strains of Pink Floyd's Animals. "That was awesome," Kozolek said with a small grin at Zubeck. "All four notes."