If Nathan Morris' EP 'Leaving Duraleigh' was an introduction and conversation starter, then his full-length debut 'A Gentleman's Closure' has to be one of the best conversations of the year. The album, a culmination of what the now-former Nashvill transplant has learned since 'Leaving Duraleigh' is a well-done and produced collection of 11 tracks, 3 of them songs from his original EP, which were by far the best three of the five-track EP.
The singer-songwriter continues his fusion of acoustic and electric pop/rock and flair for electronica to accentuate his echoing warble beginning with the intro, 'Mending Fences', which leads right into 'Listening for a Whisper.'
The next song, 'Hear Me Now, Waiting' is an interesting song as Nathan delves deeper into his electronica flair, combined with some hard drums and growling electric guitars, which creates an almost 80's electronica hard rock but stay within the constraints of today's sounds. His voice doesn't exactly fit very hard stuff though and the song slightly falters a bit because of it.
'Vagabond' is certainly one of the songs on the album you can call "album-defining.' The song is full of rich emotion and hits the soul in a very strong but calming way. The piano accompaniment adds a touch of pensiveness. Here, Nathan is in one of his strong elements without having his electronica flair. You are most certainly going to be very moved by the song at the end. Won't be surprised at all that this song may find itself getting played somewhere on television.
The remake of 'Somebody Lovin' gets a slight redo with instrumentation and actually
sounds real nice, even nicer than the original. It is the latter two that drag down the overall album as in 'Close Like Me,' the remake sounds a bit too overdone with the drums; the original's instrumentation was far much simpler and fit the overall tone of the song. This version seemed a bit on overdrive and watered down the song's hopeful meaning and points.
'Leaving The Ground' also was a bit redone a bit too much as the string accompaniment was very distracting, especially during the refrain and the ending was also way too loud and colorful, just tweaking the overall eerie ending of the original would have worked.
Nathan redeems himself with the contemplative, multi-emotional and pensive-sounding 'Broken But Breathing,' a song about a familiar theme, broken relationships. The lyrics' emotions range from mourning to wistful and at the end a sounding of hope about getting back up and walking is sung about near the end of the song. A very well-done song touching on a familiar theme and seamlessly transitioning into a range of emotions.
Overall, 'A Gentleman's Closure' is one of the strongest debuts in indie music this year...well at least heard around here despite the two overdone remakes of 'Close Like Me' and 'Leaving The Ground.' While songs like 'Mending Fences', 'Listening For a Whisper' touches on Morris' flair for a little electronica, it is songs like 'Vagabond' and 'Broken But Breathing' that should define him as a singer-songwriter. He is much stronger-sounding without the little ornamental-sounding electronic sounds but needs to be careful of getting his songs overdone and that knocked 2/10 of a point off the album rating.
But you better get your hands on his songs and know him first before he could see a couple of his songs land him some fame on a television show and be the first to say to your friends, "I know this guy!"
Album: A Gentleman's Closure
Release date: November 27, 2007
Label: N/A (Self-released)
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.