“Livin’ for the moment’s rewards”
I did like Nadim Naaman’s first album We All Want The Same but with its compositions stretching over a decade of Naaman’s songwriting, it didn’t quite have the cohesion to show off his emerging talents. For his second CD though, he’s gone all-out to demonstrate the depths of both sides to him as a musician – opting for a double-length album, half the songs are musical theatre numbers which have received his own spin, and the other half are original songs written over the last year. Thus Sides reaches with larger ambition, and succeeds.
Naaman has a marvelous showman quality to his voice but it’s beautiful to hear him bring out all the colours he can – the sense of building excitement in The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s ‘Out There’, the driving, the driving swagger of The Fix’s One, Two, Three complemented by its tenderly heartfelt break. A jaunty ‘Moving Too Fast’ sees him looking back to one of his first professional roles as The Last Five Years’ Jamie whereas his current gig – Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera – is acknowledged with a startling but hugely effective Latin-inflected treatment of its title song, accompanied by the glorious richness of Celinde Schoenmaker’s voice.
And the singer/songwriter that lives alongside the musical theatre performer is equally well served by a collection of strong songs that pull in a surprising range of influences. ‘Marry Me’ sounds like it could slip into the Once soundtrack and ‘This’ll Be The Year’ pulls even harder on the country thread to great effect, and ‘Something Out Of Reach’ and ‘Blinded By Fire’ come close to anthemic rock. Best of all though is ‘Falling’, a moodily emotive power ballad of a duet with Laura Tebbutt (what a voice!) that simply demands an accompanying dramatic music video shot in black and white as they run through the streets of a European capital city, in the rain.
There’s much more to discover on Sides, not least appearances from Eva Noblezada and Jeremy Secomb among others, over its nineteen tracks, produced by Joe Davison from Auburn Jam. But what feels most significant is the sound of a performer truly comfortable in their musical identity and having fun exploring it. For all that there are two sides to Sides, you can put the album on shuffle and the flow remains uninterrupted, such is the harmonious ownership of the material here by Naaman, whether covers or originals – it all sounds marvelously like him.