Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

May 24, 2012

John Nicole ~ Breathing You

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: pop, country
Label: Mind Of Music, Inc.
Year: 2011
Home: Virginia

Members: John Nicole ~ vocals/keyboards

Additional: Scott Harlan ~ guitar/bass
Dave Sharp, Tom Walker, Bill Vasso ~ guitars
Seth Kibel ~ saxophone/clarinet/flute
Karen Chisholm ~ cello
Susan Jones ~ violin/viola
Andy Hamburger ~ drums
Daryl Davis ~ piano
Laura Baron, Karen Oliver ~ b. vocals

I reviewed some months back Happy Life, the debut of a 60 year old marketing executive who found himself suddenly out of work, out of a girlfriend & also nearly out of hope who decided to make the best of his time & his frustrations. The result was a homespun funky protest song "Can't Get A Job", with the coda line "Everything will be okay." This spun into a debut that I compared to a hip new Tom Jones album or the solo albums of Queen's Roger Taylor but with a bit of country twang, some tongue-in-cheek humor & simple uncliched love songs. It was a debut hard not to enjoy or really find fault with. The success of that first endeavor spurred JN into a new career, with the motto "music of love", as a performing & recording artist, doing music video production & making soundtrack music. One might say that not just did JN find the second career he needed but also discovered his inner child. Or, more properly, re-discovered the inner fun child after having it stifled away in the confines of a suit & tie for many decades. Breathing You is JN's second release & has developed beyond, but with the same instrumentation, the previous outing's Taylor-esque pop of piano, guitar & strings against subtle bubbling dance beats, which one critic has wonderfully described as "sophisticated pop". It's still pop but just a bit more sophisticated & wide open musically. He also keeps some of the casual tongue-in-cheek humor setting it right up against more serious love songs. This second album also finds JN putting away the protest & focusing on love nearly exclusively. Relaxed is a key word for the music of JN & though it may sound cliche, this is an album you unembarressingly give to a lover on Valentine's Day. You're not going to wonder if he or she is going to like it or get the message. Breathing You, for no apparent reason other than they fit the mood, pulls over a handful of tracks from JN's debut (i.e. "Together Forever", "It Ain't All Up To You", "Feel You In My Arms", "I Do Love You (Go Away)", "Dance With Me", "Happy Life") which makes for about a third of the album old songs. But, these are all such delights, many I pointed out in my previous review, that no one will mind the repetition. Though, at seventeen songs at mostly slow tempos the album does feel a bit long at it gets past the dozen mark, so the inclusion may not really be necessary in hindsight. While the opener "Together Forever" may have been on Happy Life, a track that I mentioned as one of the best, it almost has a better home here as its lyrics are more in line with the theme of Breathing You & thus works as a perfect welcome: "I'm doing the laundry/washing sheets & pillow cases/I clean the house/about an hour ago/I put away the dishes/& I made myself some soup/& I sat on the couch/& thought of you/we were made to be together forever". But, focusing on the new songs & letting the past review speak for the others, this is an album of love songs which includes the quirky standout violin piano single "I Don't Play Piano". It might remind some of Elton John's "Your Song" or George Harrison's "This Song" as it takes the same approach of talking about the composition, though it ties together not being able to play the piano with not deserving a particular lover, but somehow they both work out ... or maybe they don't. It's really only a handful of songs that come across as comedic but they do tend to stand out as some of the most memorable. "I Don't Play Piano" also shows the growth in JN's music. The electronic-esque pop drum beats still exist but he's taken a less keyboard/guitar oriented approach along with arrangements that aren't so cluttered with layers of sound. The new music is airy ... breathing more ... it's more piano oriented with some bits of country & blues guitar, saxophone, strings & all sorts of bubbling sounds & low-key beats as JN develops out his musical pallette, including even a Hawaiian sounding instrumental with "Curacao Blue". All it with his distinctive casual breathy voice that lends an intimate air to the experience. With this album JN also introduces into his recording catalog some covers including Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love", a bluesy take so much more ethereal & relaxing than the shout it out original, & a surprisingly soft rendition of Gerry & The Pacemakers' "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying". For those comparing the two albums the difference between the new & old songs will probably be obvious. Everyone else will just enjoy the diversity of music. & most folks will probably just think JN has created a nice album of love songs & follow his lead of doing something with your time instead of languishing in hopeless misery. Actually, I can support his endeavor. I started Roman Midnight Music after leaving a decent paying job, not by choice, working as a college president's assistant. She didn't like people who didn't always say yes & even told me once that me thinking made the world a worse place. I was one of many who left before finally she was told to go, in a cast of just desserts. But, the economy suddenly crashed & hundreds of resumes later I was wasting time & energy & thus decided to do something in the music world that I was dreaming about for decades, let alone to prove to my ex-boss how wrong she was. This blog soon followed as earning outreach & three years later ...


  1. How wonderful your review of my album echoes my own feelings. Thanks, John Nicole

    1. Glad to hear you say that! I still have a few more of your albums to post on this blog!