Justin Nozuka And BC's Alex Layton Shine In Robsham Show
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 00:02
On Friday night, Robsham was abuzz as students poured into the theater for a concert by singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka with opening act Alex Layton. As the lights dimmed, the crowd welcomed Boston College student Layton to the event sponsored by Nights on the Heights.
A senior pre-med student, Layton dazzled fellow students and fans with a six-song set, which included three original compositions: “Brown Eyed Blue,” “Hit the Floor,” and “17 Days.” Layton interspersed his own work with a few covers, such as “Mr. Jones” by the Counting Crows and Jason Mraz’s “The Remedy.” Since first picking up the guitar in eighth grade, the self-taught musician has devoted time to exploring both his vocal and instrumental talents, drawing inspiration from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer. Layton’s devotion to his music is evident in his unique sound, an infusion of rock, pop, and blues. Skillfully juggling the rigors of pre-med classes and a commitment to the BC men’s club ice hockey team along with his music, Layton manages to make time for rehearsal, and especially enjoys playing his electric guitar, the sounds of which he incorporated into his set on Friday night. For Layton, a song has its roots in the instrument and it is from this starting point that the rest of the pieces to a song fall into place. The hard work that the senior dedicates to his music was evident at his Robsham performance, as he translated smooth vocals, creative guitar playing, and a confident stage presence into a crowd-pleasing set. With graduation on the horizon, Layton sees his future in music and will pursue any such opportunities when his time at BC comes to an end. Be sure to check out Layton’s tracks online and keep an eye out for upcoming performances at BC, as well as in the Boston and New York areas. His star is surely one on the rise.
With the close of the opening act, the much-anticipated and talented 24-year-old Justin Nozuka took over the microphone and slipped right into the first few songs, charming fans with his soulful and swoon-worthy sound. Acknowledging the audience with smiles and playful facial expressions, the artist kept focused on his craft, playing fan-favorites from both of his albums, You I Wind Land And Sea (2010) and Holly (2008). The set-list included “Heartless,” “My Heart is Yours,” “Swan in the Water,” “Golden Train,” and the ever-popular “After Tonight.” Nozuka engaged the audience throughout as he sang and played, often rhythmically stomping along to the music in order to start a beat for the audience to clap along.
Toward the end of the show, Nozuka invited two fellow musicians to the stage to sing and strum along with him for the final part of his set. The trio, creating a rich and well-rounded sound, topped off the night with a captivating rendition of “Amazing Grace.” As the audience cheered for an encore, the humble musician thanked everyone for coming to the show, and obliged by playing one last song. Much to the surprise and delight of the crowd, Nozuka decided to share a new piece that he had recently written. Even after a full set and an encore, at the end of the show the gracious Nozuka hopped off the stage and into the audience to greet and pose with fans who happily snapped pictures.
Musicians like Nozuka are a rare breed. His silky-smooth vocals and thoughtful lyrics paired with his effortless instrumental abilities and passionate playing style make Nozuka a talent with a bright future—both his love of music and his emotion are clearly displayed during his performance on his expressive face. Nozuka is currently recording his latest album, which, according to the singer, is due for release around April.
For Nozuka, a key to music is finding sounds that resonate, and he works to negate all that doesn’t blend in order to find a satisfying balance in his music. Not only does Nozuka’s music resonate in vocal and instrumental sense, but also in the lyrical sense as his meaningful messages truly appeal to listeners. Nozuka’s own recent musical inspiration comes from artists such as the Icelandic band Sigur Ros and pianist Sviatoslav Richter. With the release of his new album nearing, Nozuka hopes a tour will soon follow. Keep an eye out for the singer and stay tuned for his next album and tour. If you have the opportunity to see Nozuka live, it is more than worth it.