Album Review: Jonny Wildey – Nitely

Written over the course of a three year period, Nitely is the debut album from London-based neo-soul artist Jonny Wildey. The Brightonian embraced his love of classic 60s and 70s soul and combined this with contemporary sounds to create an eclectic album that has one foot in the past and one foot firmly in the present.

Recorded upstairs at the notable Total Refreshment Centre, Wildey took inspiration from those nomadic artists who were breezing in and out of the studio. Whether it be Neue Grafik Ensemble or an obscure jazz band, Wildey was soaking up the atmosphere as he tirelessly worked on a record close to his heart. With an impressive list of collaborators, ranging from Danalogue (The Comet Is Coming, Soccer96), Emma Gatrill (This Is The Kit, Laura Marling), Marcus Hamblett (James Holden, Timber Timbre) and London-based beat master Deft (Yip Wong), it was obvious Nitely was going to be a diverse, challenging piece of work.

Kicking off with the title track, bubbling up slowly into a sensual, writhing piece of late night music, Nitely sets the tone from the get go. ‘Violet’ showcases Wildey’s intelligent use of electronica, as his breathless vocals are cocooned in the hypnotic beats and samples, while ‘Lonely’, an album stand out, harks back to the smooth, romantic jazz-influenced sound of 70s soul and R&B artists. The mid-section of the album takes a slightly different turn as Wildey experiments with acoustic guitar notes and a more gentle sound. ‘Red Sofa’ has the air of 60s lounge music, ‘River’ juxtaposes the acoustic guitar with deep, funky bass lines, while ‘Alone’ maintains the sedate approach as the album takes a notable dip in tempo and momentum.

As we move into the third phase of the record, ‘Don’t Fall Asleep’ feels like an apt song title but begins to build in energy as the sustained beat is accented by Wildey’s floating falsetto vocals. Single ‘Your Dreams’ brings the funk back as Wildey pulls on contemporary artists like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, with ‘Love Is Out There’ offering a dreamy, neo-psychadelic twist. The grimy synth sounds of ‘Roll’ are flanked by foot stomping beats as the trippy soundscapes of penultimate song ‘Wonderful’ brings us to the final track. ‘Too Much’ is a fitting end to an incredibly ambitious album as Wildey nods to the far-out sounds of the likes of Pond and Tame Impala.

Nitely is a record that could almost be taken, and listened to, in there parts: the soulful classics of the first third, the experimental acoustics of the middle third and the psychedelic outro sweeping you off your feet in the final third. Jonny Wildey has not compromised his ideals and has challenged the listener at every turn, with new nuggets of sonic gold popping up on each and every listen. While some might not get the entirety of the album, the musicianship and aspiration that oozes out of every note is an incredibly admirable quality.

Nitely is out now via WotNot Music.

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