For whatever reason no city in Montana has never really had a music scene, at least none that I’m aware of. Seattle, Portland and Brooklyn are all meccas for musicians but you don’t really hear of many bands coming from Montana. Well my friends let me introduce you to Nathan North. He is a one-man band and recently released his debut album entitled North Face.
Now before we go into further detail about the album I have to mention his live shows. Apparently for his live shows he creates a big sound like that of a full band using his loop pedal, acoustic guitar, cajon and melodica. I haven’t seem North live before but I can tell you that I saw an artist (can’t think of the name) do this before and if North is half as good the experience is pretty incredible.
North Face is a mixed album. I thought some of the songs felt a lot more natural than others but overall it was an enjoyable ride through the ten songs. North describes his music as “philosophical folk mountain reggae with a splash of go-go.” It’s a pretty spot on description. At the center of the songs are his vocals and his guitar. He doesn’t add a lot of fluff and relies on the songwriting to shine through.
North opens the album with a solid “More Than This,” which definitely infuses a bit of reggae. In fact it’s one of the only songs that have an overt reggae style. “More Than This” also features one of his best vocal performances. The lyrics are tinged with that philosophical sentiment he was talking about. He sings, “Take a deep breath then close your eyes power of belief is far greater than you realize.”
“Only Choices” is a solid track that is a stripped back song that sounds heartfelt and contemplative. Proof that North doesn’t need a lot to sound good. North’s first misstep is “Prison of Pain,” which sounds like a combination of Kid Rock and Everlast. It sounds contrived compared to the previous material on the album and he exaggerates his voice which sounds forced. More John Denver, less Kid Rock please.
Luckily North redeems himself with songs like “Relentless Search” and “Below Zero.” Overall, North Face is a solid album but it leaves room for improvement. The recording quality could use a bit more polish and I felt the drum sounded too electronic against the organic guitars. North is set to release another album this year so it won’t be too long before we can hear how he follows North Face up.
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