“Nashville Winter” opens the album with a declaration of intent. The song is a straightforward country shuffle that roots itself firmly on Music Row, with Countrypolitian flair. “Carry My Body Down” maintains the tempo while moving seamlessly into darker and deeper thematic territory. Nick's voice is as its most poignant and haunting as he contemplates mortality and the very nature of death. “Have you ever felt trapped by something you love, I had to get away” he croons in 101, a ballad celebrating the highway. Highway 101 has an already established history in country music, and his melodies on the song pay tribute to the band of the same name. He follows up his song about escape with a ballad of loneliness and isolation. “All Alone” finds him weeping about running from his own shadow with a string of vocal turns worthy of Marty Robbins. “Restless Moon” closes a song cycle that feels almost like a trilogy, with Nick nearly howling out his angst towards the moon in a closing “oooh.” “I know that you will be my girl back home,” he cajoles over a backdrop of tejano infused country pop. “In The Orchard” sounds like a cross between Ralo Malo and Ryan Adams in his Jacksonville City Lights phase, blending Nick's high tenor with mariachi guitars and a weeping steel guitar loop. Thematically, the tender song of lost love could be an answer to Matraca Berg's classic “Strawberry Wine.” “Someday” drops the cry of the steel guitar and picks up the tempo into a straightforward Nashville two-step. The 1960's feel creates a tasteful backdrop for Nick's Faron Young styled vocals. “Without a warning, here comes lightening and when it strikes my world changes, all reason left behind,” Nick sings on “Cupid's Victim,” his voice a parody of put-upon exasperation. The song is an easy call back to an era when personal angst was always served tongue-in-cheek. “Nighttime Sky” leaves Nashville to take the album on a brief trip to Texas via a two-step with a touch of Bob Wills swing. Yet, in its own way, this song too fits the Nashville formula, at least the part of it that states all songs about skies must be set out west, where the sky is bigger. The album with a small slice of country rock on “Gambler's Life.” A melodic riff that runs somewhere between Sergio Leone and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” adds a note of malicious suspense which invokes a sense of danger for the protagonist.
There is an entire cottage industry in making new albums with a retro feel. Adele has ridden the market to the top of nearly ever chart in the world. In its own style, Nick 13 has a lot in common with the ubiquitous 21. They both embrace a very specific 1960's sound, and build a set of fairly contemporary lyrics within it. Each of these era embraces lush backdrops, and each contained their own wall of sound elements. Unfortunately, Nick 13 will very likely not be a breakout hit with songs that are heard everywhere and a single that tops the I Tunes sales chart for months at a time. There will be no dance remix, no Top 40 edits. It is however, an album that will continue to be discovered by small groups of fans for decades to come.