Given his high profile after appearing on NBC's The Voice, Nakia could've called in showbiz favors and constructed an overblown showcase for his near-perfect pipes. Instead, the local soul stirrer made a modest, personal EP that concentrates as much on songs as singing. A belter of the Otis Redding school, the Alabama native can rocket over the top, but here he holds his larynx in reserve, letting groove rule the Southern rock swagger of "Pieces and Castles" and melody dominate memory-lane-trodding opener "Tight." The funky "Walking on a Slant" makes inebriation sound sly instead of sloppy, while the bouncing, Joe Cocker-ish crime prelude "Make Up With a Gun" becomes as much commentary as declaration of bold stupidity. Even Stax-like ballad "When I Found You" and feel-good cheerleader "Dream Big" pull back from bombast, effective in their controlled performances. Handed a bigger platform than ever before, Nakia chooses subtlety over grand gestures, making Drown in the Crimson Tide all the more endearing but no less gritty.
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