In recent years, Detroit has become infamous for its epidemic of dilapidation and, to be frank, ruin porn. But going under the surface, what makes Detroit so fascinating is its resiliency and resolve; these people not only survive lake-effect-filled winters, but also the devastation of constant job loss and the unimaginable burden of watching their city paraded about as an example of what not to do. Considering this determined mindset, it’s little surprise that folk/pop singer-songwriter Nick Urb (who was raised outside of Detroit) has the same “through thick or thin” attitude about his music. “If you love something, that’s the way it is” he says. “Whether good or bad, right or wrong, your mind has been made up.”
Urb spent the majority of his 20s touring around, playing churches, homes — basically anywhere he could. After releasing his first album, We Are Able, Urb scored an almost unbelievable seven million streams on Spotify and enjoyed a coveted Daytrotter session. Now, his sophomore release, Until the End of Days, continues in the same folky vein as Ed Sheerhan, a name so ubiquitous and synonymous with the easygoing pop movement. Urb could easily be his musical cousin.
Take first single “Emily,” so radio-ready that you’d swear you’ve heard it before. This is soft-pop at its finest — catchy, wispy, and heartbreaking. (Spoiler alert: the narrator is leaving his love, Emily, for the road. Musicians, amirite?) In the same vein is the acoustic groover “Until the End of Days”; “Everything and More,” which seems to be the sequel to “Emily”; the string-saturated “Brothers”; and closer “Routines,” ironically breaking from the album’s cohesive sound to incorporate synths.
Overall, you’re not going to get a whole lot of diversity here, but that works in Urb’s favor. Where so many artists on the scene today think being versatile makes them more marketable, Urb clearly understands the value of perfecting his craft — which he’s definitely doing. Rarely do you hear an effort by an indie artist that sounds so polished and heartfelt, but that’s exactly what you’re getting with Until the End of Days.
Maybe it’s because his music is inspired by the same driving force that still keeps Detroit’s heart beating with memories of the auto industry, transportation, and Motown: nostalgia. “My songs are all inspired by deeply personal experiences,” Urb confesses. “I intend to keep those moments and memories alive.”