He helped raise the pop song to an art form, lifting it from the youth into the realm of serious consideration. But most mature musicians today stray toward the maudlin tones of adult alternative or the “raw” qualities of Americana/folk. There’s not too many guys making solid pop for adults, but Nik Freitas is one of them.
“Saturday Night Underwater” is an album that finds its best analogue in Simon’s early works; there are hummable melodies in charming tunes, but it’s all done with a careful hand and an editor’s eye. These are beautifully recorded tunes that leave nothing to chance, from the distant organ of the title track to the tempered background vocals of highlight “Let It Be Known.”
This is all possible because of Freitas’ vast experience (this is his sixth album), calm yet direct voice and easygoing flow. None of the songs here are rushed. They unfold at their own pace, whether it’s the horns of “In the Frame,” the drum machine intro to “Little Man” or the instantaneous beginning of the gorgeous “Hold That Thought.”
“Let It Be Known” and “Affected” call up comparisons to Rhymin’ Simon’s quietest acoustic work in a thrilling, “we finally have someone to take up his mantle!” way. The picking pattern of “Affected” is a specific nod, as it’s similar to that of both “Duncan” and “The Boxer.” The pattern is common enough, but in the greater context of the album, it’s hard to not hear the pattern and smile with recognition.
“Saturday Night Underwater” is my introduction to Freitas, but I’m already incredibly enthusiastic about his work. I’m going to be checking into his older discs and eagerly anticipating his future material. Fans of mature pop will be blown away by this. —Stephen Carradini