Nick Hakim is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter with an impressive and soulful debut on his debut EP Where Will We Go Pt.1. Originally from D.C., Hakim hasn’t lived in New York for long enough to make him a jaded native. Songs like “Pour Another” and “Cold” are dripping with enough vulnerability and soulful lyricism you’d get the feeling he’d perform with the same honesty for a full house as he would for a one-on-one session. We’ve seen Hakim live once, with a small but enthusiastic crowd in Brooklyn. It was an intimate performance, just Hakim on stage, with a guitar and three bandmates on keyboard, drums and guitar joining him. It doesn’t feel overly rehearsed, and the live versions strayed away from the sound of his recorded songs like ‘Pour Another,’ which evolved into a more uptempo rendition onstage, with surf-rock sounding guitar riffs. Nick himself is, as you would expect, slightly introverted, slightly shy when performing, but the music speaks for itself. He’s undeniably talented, especially on his guitar, which he bends into when playing, as if he needs to be closer to it to stroke just the right chord. There are no catchy hooks, just a group of guys bent on building off of each other’s instruments.
Nick says of the Where Will We Go Pt. 1 EP “I was caught in a hazy gloom, alone in my room, filled up with booze while writing this music. I would write very early in the morning after nights of no sleep. Dunkin Donuts coffee was my friend. I would set up a mic, record, and later make sense of whatever came out.” It’s the type of stripped-down music that doesn’t grow old with with a change in season or temperament. It sounds a lot like a rainy day album that’s darker and more soulful than Jack Johnson and more R&B-blues focused than Fink.
Hakim’s single “I Don’t Know” previews his upcoming Pt. 2 EP, and follows the same delicate and soulful vocals, bluesy, almost surf-edged guitars, and jazzy piano instrumentals that made his Pt.1 EP memorable. “I Don’t Know” appears relaxing and effortless, but the instrumental work from Hakim and the band speaks volumes about the technical work that goes into these slow-paced, reverberating songs. On the Pt. 2 EP accompaniment, Hakim tells listeners “If you’re an early bird, listen to it while the sun is rising. Most of it was written during those hours of no sleep til the sun came up, so the sunrise is always nostalgic and makes me remember this phase.”