Nick Dakota’s album Vision has set the bar high for this powerhouse young performer’s future, but everything about him indicates he’s up for the challenge. The release of his latest single and video “Sledgehammer” paves the way for his pending follow up album and maintaining that momentum into the future is easy when the past can be mined for such riches. “Sledgehammer” embodies all the best modern aspects of Dakota’s presentation while still respectfully bowing its head to the music’s traditional sound and personality. It’s a potent match. Dakota’s eyes are turned to the future, but he’s also nimble enough as a performer and singer to bring a wide audience anything they want from him and with equally convincing passion and skill. The video for “Sledgehammer” is an ideal promotional tool for such a memorable song and showcases the strengths that guarantee a place at the table for Nick Dakota for years to come.
The video is as sleek as anything else you’ll see of its ilk. It follows the standard template for music videos that we’ve all known since time immemorial and there’s no over-arching concept holding the clip together; instead, Dakota and the creative team surrounding him take a less is more approach. It results in a straight-forward performance clip filmed on a well lit stage and the lack of any bells and whistles beyond suggestive lighting keeps things looking professional but, likewise, keeps our focus more on the song than any eye candy visuals. Dakota puts the song over with a tremendous amount of verve while still keeping things tasteful and the video’s other participants match his energy level without ever attempting to overshadow his central role. Much like the playing, everything here is geared towards serving the song. All other considerations are secondary.
The song is, naturally, one of the highlight moments on Dakota’s album Vision. Selecting it as the next single when you have a new album brewing suggests the possibility that this song might hint about the direction he’s resolved to go in with his next musical outing; if so, the prospect is quite tantalizing. The presence of the backing vocalists on this song is underscored by their inclusion in the video; Dakota has a warm, inviting voice with commercial potential galore, but the addition of backing singers sweetens what is a sometimes rough hewn vocal treatment. Carefully balancing itself between mainstream commercial appeal and rugged soulfulness is no mean trick and Dakota does it quite well. The song is cut to an ideal length, as well, and demonstrates the same head down focus on avoiding self indulgence defining the release. “Sledgehammer” is one of Vision’s peak moments, across the board, and the video created to further promote the song helps realize a little more of its latent potential. This is a real winner from a performer we’ll soon be hearing from again.