Liner Notes, II: (If) You Want Trouble

By John F. Guido

Via Youtube

Hi, my name is John, and this is Liner Notes. Here’s a song you should listen to.

Coming in off of his debut 2012 album Times All Gone, Californian R&B musician Nick Waterhouse—who’s produced for the Allah-las—delivers a power house of a track with “(If) You Want Trouble.” It’s steeped in the musical intonation of late 50s and early 60s jazz and soul, and listening to it, it’s hard not to be reminded of the best of Ray Charles. The same is true for the entire album, but we’re going to go ahead and just focus on this single track.

“(If) You Want Trouble” opens with a twanging guitar that sets the rhythm nicely for the rest of the song. From the beginning, the track grooves. The guitar could stand alone and the song would still be catchy as all hell. With the accompanying horns and organ, the electricity is only amplified. Each riff off of one another, layering beautifully to create a song absolutely dripping with vibrancy. Think of it like coming to an RCA Color TV after watching only greyscale.

Then of course there are vocals of Mr. Waterhouse himself, which match the energy of the music he plays wonderfully. He’d fit right in among other 60s jazz singers, crooning with an intensity that manages to make the song’s repetitious, monotonous lyrics feel fresh and exciting each time they’re sung. What’s more, the background singers that accompany him on the track match him step for step, adding a depth to the song and heightening the overall atmosphere of it; you feel like you could be listening to a live recording of a lounge/club act (I mean that in the best way).

Nick Waterhouse does what he does best, creating a track that manages to harken back to the past, while being contemporary, fresh, and possessing a heart of its own. It speaks with a soul that’s missing from most pop songs, while managing to be light and enjoyable at the same time. What’s more, Waterhouse manages to craft something that distinguishes itself from the pack of modern pop music just by being itself, by sounding unique, and yet still wouldn’t seem out of place playing on the radio.

In short, “(If) You Want Trouble” is fun, exciting, and catchy as all hell. Give it a try.

When to Listen to It:

When you want a break from the endless barrage of bass and autotune, but don’t quite want to delve into that Swedish experimental jazz band your friend’s been telling you about.


  • The horns, the guitar, the music in general
  • Waterhouse’s vocals
  • The atmosphere the song creates (it’s like something Don Draper would listen to if he were actually happy inside)


  • The lyric’s repetition and their monotony

If you liked this, youll like:

“Fever” by Little Willie John

“Ain’t There Something Money Can’t Buy” by Young – Holt Unlimited

“I Got Made” by King Kahn and the Shrines

John F. Guido is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at


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