An evocative rhythm beats towards us in the titular “Blue,” but I don’t know that the undertow of this signature track is any more intimidating a force than the jagged, almost surreal barrage of melodies and tones in “Old Man” is.
“Let the Rain Fall Down” flirts with intimacy and fleeting alternative angularities almost at the same time, but much as the case is with retro anthem “Shimmering,” the details wouldn’t be as decadent as they sound in this instance were any other singer besides Nate Smith holding the mic. Never fatigued but always a little more laid-back than most of us would be in such a complicated and grandiose tracklist, Smith crushes the status quo in “Down By the Water,” “Carl Jung,” and the oft-covered Bob Dylan wonder “Make You Feel My Love” with surgical precision every time. His heart opens up to us on the back of harmonies and rhythm the same in “Found,” “Maybe This Time,” and even the rather dark “Last Kind Word Blues.” Keeping with the tradition started so early on among the great alternative singer/songwriters in history, the LP Blue is endearing, volatile, sublimely yearning, and yet at times more than accessible enough for anyone to give it a spin and get lost in its numerous thought-provoking statements.
The lyrical imagery in Blue never sticks to a single topic but instead offshoots in different directions that eventually become jointly referential to the kind of self-awareness that used to be one of the standard elements you would find in rock and pop music; alas, now a rarity to say the very least. Smith is focusing almost solely on compositional depth in songs like “Shimmering” and “Found,” more than he did with this kind of material in previous recording sessions, ensuring that every verse he stresses to us hits home hard. The compositional integrities in this record stand on their own without having to sound all that conventional or outlandishly experimental, occupying a space in between that a lot of artists want to fill with their own unique concepts (though few will do as well as Smith has here). This is an artist quite adept at pushing the aesthetical envelope as far as he can without going over the edge, and I don’t think you need to be his biggest fan to recognize that in Blue.
I will say that I had serious expectations coming into this review, having been very impressed with what I have been hearing out of this player’s scene for the better part of the summer, and thankfully Saint Pacific doesn’t leave me hanging in any portion of this latest affair. Picking up where so many have dropped the ball when it comes to self-exploration in the recording studio, Nate Smith is using his Saint Pacific vehicle to do some amazingly melodic work that can’t stay contained within the underground for very long, and although this is artistry that possibly wouldn’t blossom as well on the mainstream side of the dial without getting too corrupted by outside elements, I think it’s serving a purpose far greater than most of its present contemporaries will.
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