Superb acoustic guitar work guides us into this stylish alternative folk album from artist and songwriter Nate Newburn.
Bringing together the raw intimacy of the live acoustic world, with equally upfront vocals, classically poetic lyrical observations, and unexpected additional layers of bass and rhythm, LAZARBURN lights up the room from the outset as a conceptually intriguing Did You Hear starts things off.
Immediately Nate’s voice has a certain tone and delivery style that are unique, a little Elliott Smith-like, with a raspy edge and contemplative, unusual lyrics to match. The song reflects on the broader issues of life, the world around us, and this is a subtle quality that also reappears elsewhere.
As the album goes on, we’re welcomed by further unexpected elements such as keys, touches of funk, and deeper conversations about life and the role of the contemporary self. Always the voice and the framing of ideas ring true to Nate’s sound and style.
The way the artist crafts his melodies is equally unique, not leaning towards the ear-worm writing manners of pop or mainstream music, but meandering in an often freestyle seeming fashion – Can’t Be Swayed (No More) is a fine example, and a song that lyrically addresses the very concept of not conforming to society.
Don’t Talk To Me is easily a musical highlight – the sort of track that begs for you to witness it in a live setting. Here we get rhythmic vocals and folk elements that lean towards the likes of John Butler Trio. Conceptually Nate stays in his own head, relating to his audience for the sheer personality and resistance of it all.
A fine quality of this album is that you never know which direction Nate will taken any given song in, nor in what manner he’ll address the subject matter – or what that subject will be. It’s eclectic, yet it fits with his style consistently. It’s deep, yet fun – a little out there, yet musically impressive.
Motivated by The Split dwells on the bigger issues it seems, before another hit of contrast strikes for a seemingly personal Just The Other Day. However, the latter goes on to reference some cold and unpleasant observations – another calling card of the artist, this ability to detail difficulty in a strangely upbeat way. The scope is broad, and the artist handles the variety well.
Ready For The forest and Dreams of My Beaded Pondo Hat finish up the project as further musical highlights. Whether we get fullness of soundscape or acoustic complexity and rhythm, the sound is engaging, likeable, and Nate always delivers something fresh and unexpected. A defiantly intersting project, from a songwriter and musician paving his own way entirely.