Whatever else North Carolinian pastoral psych specialists U.S. Christmas might have going on in their sound at any given time (there’s quite a bit when they want there to be), one thing they’ve always excelled at is infusing Americana elements into their work, taking the environment around them and distilling it to audio. Last year’s The Valley Path did that clearer and more evocatively than they’d ever done it before, and was precise and coherent in its mission.
As such, when A Great River — the Neurot Recordings solo debut from U.S. Christmas guitarist/vocalist Nate Hall — came my way, the first thing I listened for was that unmistakable tinge of mountaintop sepia. It’s not a country twang, but definitively of its place musically and even more specifically Southern in its melancholy. A Great River has that feel in common with Hall‘s band, and joins the ranks of highlight Neurot solo outings from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till (both Neurosis) in its appreciation of classic folk, from Bob Dylan, whose influence shows up prevalently throughout, to a more stripped-down look at the brilliance of arrangement that has found a home in Wovenhand‘s David Eugene Edwards.
Foremost, the album is honest. Recorded in a single night last March, its “first album” feel is undercut by psychedelic flourish and the emotional depths Hall brings to the surface, and while there are still avenues of progression to be explored, a song like the Townes Van Zandt cover “Kathleen” — which I’m fortunate enough to be able to premiere on the player below — remains the beautiful and lush work of a singer-songwriter beginning what will hopefully be a long journey.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Nate Hall‘s A Great River is due out on Neurot in May. For more on the album (including Scott Kelly‘s take), check out Neurot‘s artist page here, or look up Hall on Thee Facebooks here. Special thanks to Earsplit PR, Neurot and Hall for their generous permission in letting me host this track.
Tags: Nate Hall, Neurot, North Carolina, U.S. Christmas