I first came across Canadian singer/songwriter Justin Nozuka completely by accident, catching him a few weeks back on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live (what can I say other than I'm something of an insomniac?).

Kimmel (to his credit) features a lot of new, developing artists on his late night TV show. But I'd be less than honest if I didn't say most of the ones that I've seen pretty much suck. Justin Nozuka, on the other hand grabbed my attention, and more importantly my ears, right out of the gate. The song that Nozuka sang that night on Kimmel, "After Tonight," was absolutely gorgeous for one thing.

But the lyrics also had this wistful romanticism about them, with lines about how if you "follow me you'll never have to wish again." The chorus also had this irresistible hook about how "after tonight, you don't have to look up at the stars."

What can I say other than I'm basically a sucker for romantic songwriting? But besides that, Nozuka's songwriting and especially his fluid style of acoustic guitar -- with it's flamenco flourishes -- reminded me an awful lot of another really great young songwriting prodigy from the 1980's, Aztec Camera's then twenty year old Roddy Frame.

In the early eighties, Aztec Camera released this incredible debut record called High Land Hard Rain, that had people like Elvis Costello saying things like "I wish I could write songs like that." But then just as quickly as Frame made that great record, he disapeared from view. On an initial listen, Justin Nozuka reminded me an awful lot of Frame.

So based on instinct alone, I knew I had to look a bit further into this Justin Nozuka. Doing a bit of research on the internet, this is what I found out.

According to the always impeccably reliable Wikipedia, Justin Nozuka is a twenty year old born of Japanese and American parents, and he has one of those Kevin Bacon degrees of seperation (his mother is actress Kyra Sedgwick's sister). If I wasn't already sold on Nozuka due to the similarities to Aztec Camera, the Bacon connection pretty much sealed the deal.

So here's what I can tell you about Nozuka's album Holly. Based on the first few listens to this album, my hunches about the kid were spot on. The kid writes some kick-ass songs.

Like Aztec's Roddy Frame twenty some odd years ago, Nozuka's songwriting shows both a knack for melodic hooks and a lyrical sensibility that goes far, far beyond his twenty years. As I've already noted, he's also a damn decent guitarist.

The songs for the most part fall squarely into the sensitive singer/songwriter category, but they do so in the good sort of way that recalls the intellectual smarts of folks like Roddy Frame or Al Stewart, more than the saccharine fare of folks like, say Kenny Loggins.

Nozuka also isn't afraid to explore the darker corners of such things, such as on "Save Him" where the secrets of an abusive relationship are laid bare, ending with one of the two people begging for her life. On another song, Nozuka asks "If I Gave You My Life" adding, "would you let it slip through your fingers like water in the desert"? On "Supposed to Grow Old," Nozuka laments "all the memories we were supposed to share when we were supposed to grow old," and how "you were supposed to rescue me if I was ever fallen."

This is a great debut album, from an artist whose songwriting talent shows the sort of uncommon wisdom that rarely comes at any age, to say nothing of Nozuka's mere twenty years. Let's just hope he sticks around longer than Roddy Frame did.

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