Lazy summer grooves signal impressive debut
Behind Watts’laid-back air of Afro-topped stoner mellowness, this West Coast nu-soul balladeer is a phenomenally well-connected chap. Produced by the team behind Black Eyed Peas and Soundgarden, and namechecked by legendary “Daisy Age”rappers De La Soul, Simplified is a seductively silky hybrid of old-school R&B with unobtrusively left-field, largely electronic production.
Alternating between rich baritone and soaring falsetto, Watts warbles comfortably into Curtis Mayfield and Al Green territory at times. His debut album’s slushy, slow-motion pace is a little too relaxed, but the New-Order-meets-Seal “Broken Dreams”and the Morrissey-meets-Prince “Your Day”redeem its more snoozy moments.