Zack Nichols

In his info sheet for the 2007 Westword Music Showcase, Zack Nichols described his music as "vulnerable," "soulful" and "optimistically heartbroken" — and these terms can also be applied to his first release since relocating to Los Angeles. Naming a mildly twangy disc Bright Eyes may not be the best marketing approach for reasons Conor Oberst could explain. But the song of the same name provides a fine showcase for Nichols's skills, thanks to a scratchy-voiced delivery that even makes lines like "Sometimes your bedroom still reeks of me" sound sensitive. Elsewhere, the key is subtlety. The mildly overwrought "Can't Stop Thinking About You" is less effective than the gorgeously deliberate "Movin' Up," which finds Nichols handling his emotions like a cracked egg — or an optimistically broken heart.


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