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Album Review

When he first emerged in 2008, a then 18-year-old Justin Nozuka had an easy, meditative grace about him that many singers spend their entire careers trying to achieve. His soulful, meandering R&B-flavored songs took cues from artists like Jeff Buckley and Lauryn Hill, and if he occasionally overextended his sensitive, heartfelt crooning, it was still generally more subtle than a lot of artists twice his age. Six years later, his third LP, Ulysees, shows that he's not afraid to alter and develop his sound. The spare, ethereal Ulysees follows a very distinct aesthetic, coming across more as a work than an album of songs. Introduced by the lyricless choral piece "Nest," Nozuka's warm tenor voice suddenly appears out of the darkness with the solo a cappella "Dreaming" before dovetailing smoothly into its lush companion piece, "Eyes Changing Colour." Barely six minutes into the album, you're wholly drawn into his world of Eno/Lanois ambient-scapes and distant dream-brother ballads. Accompanying himself throughout with gently picked electric and acoustic guitars and lush choral sections, Nozuka has worked hard to leave plenty of open space, often letting his guitar parts trail off just as the vocals enter and vice versa. This type of understated, spatially minded arranging is difficult to pull off and takes patience and thought, yet somehow he stitches these ten unique pieces together so that absolutely nothing feels unnecessary or out of place. The tone he sets is more mysterious and warmly reflective than elegiac, and it's easy to get lost in this austere work of art. How he managed to unpretentiously transform himself from gentle soul-pop balladeer to ambient semi-classical song composer is just part of the mystery of this extremely talented young artist.

Customer Reviews

Dissapointed wait

Hmmm, Kinda sleepy-time music, I think I fell asleep after the second song, yawn. Save your mons on this one.

an excellent new direction

Yes this is a quiet retrospective album - so? Yeah its very different from his other work - so? I'm loving everything about this and appreciate the chance he's taken in going in a direction I'm sure not everyone agrees with.


I saw him live recently, and before that (when I had only listened to the previews of his songs) I wasn’t crazy about this album. But once I saw him live and listened to the whole thing, It’s really amazing music, the previews don’t do it justice. Definitely a great album.


Born: 1988 in New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The maturity of Justin Nozuka's music, a soulful blend of R&B and pensive singer/songwriter folk that recalls both Nick Drake and Lauryn Hill, belies his tender years: Nozuka was only 18 when his debut album was released. The son of a Japanese father and American mother (actress Holly Sedgwick, who coincidentally happens to be Kyra Sedgwick's sister), Nozuka was born in New York City in 1988, the sixth of seven children. Nozuka's older brothers were musicians -- George Nozuka, three years Justin's...
Full bio
Ulysees, Justin Nozuka
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Customer Ratings