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music: pick of the week; JUSTIN NOZUKA Holly (Outcaste).

Byline: by Paul Cole, Jack Daniels & David Brookes

IT'S open season on soul. After Ray Lamontagne opened the floodgates, we've seen the likes of James Morrison and Amos Lee grabbing the headlines. Now steps forward 18 year-old troubadour Nozuka, son of a Japanese father and Canadian mother.

His acoustic guitar soul, simple melody and rich throaty voice recall both Morrison and Gomez frontman Ben Ottewell but with the tricksy phrasing of a Craig David when required.

Although songs such as Be Back Soon and Mr Therapy Man are built on the blues, it'll be the gentler love songs that will make Nozuka a household name, helped by Radio 2's decision to make his debut an album of the week.

Laidback single After Tonight has already set out stall, a spellbinding song backed by softly strummed guitar that has more in common with Emmett Tinley and Jack Johnson than his soulman contemporaries.

Lyrically, Nozuka likes to think outside the box. Opener Down In A Cold Dirty Well is sung from the perspective of a man whose life flashes before his eyes when he is trapped at the bottom of a well.

Save Him is a heartbreaking song about an abusive relationship - heard through the party wall of a neighbouring apartment. And Criminal tells how a childhood act of mindless vandalism comes back to haunt the perpetrator.

This is an exceptional debut album. PC
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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