Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Class of 2012: Nate Hall - A Great River

A Great River is the debut solo album from Nate Hall of US Christmas.  According to his label Neurot Recordings, it was recorded in a single evening in March, which is unheard of in this day and age.  It is not a metal album - it's very mellow and is basically acoustic guitar and vocals.  Of its ten songs, two are instrumentals and one is a cover of a Townes Van Zandt tune.

As "The Earth In One Cell" opens the album, the vocals bring to mind Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd, but after a few tracks, that feeling wears off.  Next comes "Dark Star," one of the stronger tracks on the record.  It has a bit of a New- Adventures-In-Hi-Fi feel to it, especially in the way that the electric guitar works around the acoustic.  This is followed by a cover of "Kathleen," which is another highlight.  The haunting instrumental "Night Theme" would work well in a movie like True Grit or Tombstone.  "Chains" seems to be the most straightforward example of singer-songwriter on the album.  (Album closer "A Great River" would come in at a close second.)

The second half of the record starts with the slow and short bluegrassy "To Wake And Dream."  "Raw Chords" is effortlessly washed over with electric guitars, and if you listen carefully, you can hear a bit of Nate's North Carolina accent.  Perhaps Nate should explore scoring movies, because "Electric Night Theme," the more aggressive sibling to "Night Theme," would also work well in a film.  Picture a horseback chase into the darkness while you listen to it.  The traditional "When The Stars Begin To Fall" is the album's biggest surprise.  It's completely a cappella except for the train whistle that you can hear in the background.  The title track closes the album with an added organ sound that fits perfectly.

A Great River is a (mostly) quiet and reflective album from an unexpected source.  It would make a great companion to a night in the woods or one with a cooler of beer on the back porch.

Grade: B  (84.0%)

No comments:

Post a Comment