National Steel is a songwriter and musician who has complied a stunning collection of original tracks for the album Hiraeth. Beginning with the gorgeously organic and blues-led swagger of the title track, the project is quick to entrance and impress. The singer’s voice is perfectly soulful, melodically skillful yet raspy enough to give these emotional, reflective lyrics a sense of authenticity.
As things continue, the instrumentation varies slightly but holds close to this live sound in a vastly appealing way. You soon crave a live show, and each song successfully follows on from the last in a satisfying manner – effective arrangement makes the entire playlist an enjoyable and rather timeless journey to embark upon.
This Old Heart kicks into gear with a classic fifties feel and some fitting harmonies that help create a shoulder-swaying mood. Meanwhile poetry and natural vocal passion continue to captivate.
Without You is an early personal favorite, poetic and inspiring lyrics meet with a rising sense of anticipation that furthers the uplifting nature of the song in a bright way. Some moments on the album have a certain nostalgic familiarity about them – the piano work on Nothing Takes the Place of You follows on as an example; it’s a comforting trait and lets the words connect quickly. Without You is undoubtedly one that feels refreshingly new though, and deeply thoughtful in its own right.
Adding a simple folk shuffle and some personal reflection is the song Don’t Leave Me Alone – the sort of track that strangely suits those isolated times with the self; it feels both sad and optimistic, fearful in lyric but hopeful in sound. Spread The Light afterwards is a definite highlight – the melancholy yet full soundscape and long-form melody-line pushes the singer to those passionate peaks again. A hint of wood-wind and electric guitar helps keep things fresh and breaks up the weight of the lyrics.
Towards the end of the project, Desperate Nights and Solemn Days is infectiously upbeat and rhythmic enough to lift you out of your mid-day lull. Conceptually again contrast emerges, but it’s a depth you’ve long-since grown affection for. The melodic progression seems genuinely original, and that classic musicianship suits the story-telling well. Stand afterwards keeps things warm and engaging with a simple yet effective hook – and a colorful, multi-layered ambiance that seems powerfully connected to the ideas presented within.
Often the artist that is National Steel presents fascinating songwriting that lyrically intrigues and maintains your interest right the way through. Though the music is classically rooted, the writing is decidedly original, and that makes this album a total joy to listen through.
The project comes to a close with the quickly anthem-like Americana ballad that is It’s In The Way. The song has familiarity again but with a little something new enough to make it feel relevant and engaging in today’s world. The personal touch works well and honesty rings loud and clear in the leading voice. A heartfelt and calming way to finish what is an easy must for soft-rock and Americana fans far and wide. A pleasure to have fill the room.
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