Stream: Nick Waterhouse, ‘Hide and Seek’ and ‘The Fooler’

Nick Waterhouse (Photo by Ben Heath)

The pandemic, it turns out, worked in mysterious ways. During lockdown, as a hedge against boredom and loneliness, Nick Waterhouse would sometimes repair to Instagram Live, where he spun his old 45s and talked about them over drinks. It was like a radio show, or a jukebox takeover by somebody with (to steal an obscure song title) Encyclopedic Knowledge Of.

“I was thinking back to being at the record shop in San Francisco where people would come and make drinks on Friday after work, and we’d play records for each other,” Waterhouse says. “A lot of people were tuning in, and it meant a lot of people re-entered my life.”

One of those people with whom he reconnected was producer-engineer and noted analog recording fiend Mark Neill, with whom Waterhouse made his sixth full-length, “The Fooler” (out April 1).

“Mark is one of the last American producer/engineers who’s truly connected to the audio tradition,” Waterhouse notes in the album announcement. “Making this record was like going to see the kung fu master on the mountain. You can probably draw a through line from my very first record to this one, but this is something else entirely. The sonic landscape Mark designed is so much further into space, with reverb and depth. The record is in mono and it feels so lush.”

Submitted as evidence: The first two singles, “Hide and Seek” and “The Fooler.”

Long a conduit for rhythm and blues, old soul, early rock ’n’ roll and classic balladry, Waterhouse found inspiration for the album in bittersweet remembrances of his time spent in San Francisco, which flooded back when he went to visit a friend there. “I had this whole life in San Francisco, and a lot of that city changed and dissipated and was leveled by, let’s be honest, money,” he says. “In several years it was like somebody cut off the oxygen there. It really did happen, and it was sad for me. A lot of what I wanted out of life was there. I went through processing a lot of that over the years.”

So who is the “The Fooler?” Check out the title track, and decide for yourself. “It’s about how your own heart and your memories can betray you in really nice ways,” Waterhouse says. “The rest of the songs were all orbiting around that. It was like, Wow, I’m writing my city record. It’s a parting shot, but to a place that was already gone. And now it’s this record. I find that to be deeply moving and satisfying.”

And like any good radio host, Waterhouse has a call-in line: (833) 777-KFLR

||| Watch: The video for “Hide and Seek”

||| Also: Stream “The Fooler”

||| Previously: “Promenade Blue,” “Very blue” / “Medicine,” “Place Names,” “I’m Due (for a Heartache),” live at the Glendale Open festival, live at the Regent Theater, “Wreck the Rod,” live at the Fonda, live at the Regent, “Old Place,” “It’s Time”