There’s something to be said for basic musical competency, and on his fifth solo LP, Nick Jaina proves he has it in spades.
Problem is, competency is all that’s going for this wispy, understated album’s jumble of guitar ballads and orchestral-pop tunes. Jaina coos about love (jangle-fest “Sebastopol”) and his obsessive need for female attention (the breezy and bluesy “Semoline”) with practiced ease, right down to the clockwork swells of backing vocals and strings (for added emotional profundity!) on most of the tracks’ third verse-choruses. And when he flirts with richer instrumentation on “Matrimonial Bed,” layering ukulele, hand-drums and beatboxing over martial snares, you might even tap a toe or two. But the majority of Jaina’s evident talent is spun into middling, super-slick acoustic filler—perfect for coffeehouse background noise, and not much else.