Sometimes in life you make a friend that enters and leaves your life with little fanfare but that ephemeral visit leaves a mark so profound that you know you’ll never forget them. To me that friend is Nate Allen. A few months ago, Allen was in the midst of his six-month tour of the United States. He stopped by Flint, Michigan, where I was living at the time, to play some shows with a friend and mentor of mine, Jason Guitarstring. I had the privilege of playing a show with Allen and seeing him play live twice. Both shows were light-years beyond any live performance I’d ever seen.
The way that Allen performs his music is so visceral and honest that it completely disarms the listener. You watch him sing from a place in his gut that seems to produce the perfect solution of passion and candor and you can’t help but soak in every word he sings. Allen tells stories in his songs and he makes them not only his own but everyone in the room’s whether it’s him singing them in person or his voice filtering out of your stereo speakers.
When he was in Michigan, Allen told the story about how his newest album, “Take It Easy” came to fruition. After a show he played in Indiana, not to long before he arrived in Michigan, a gentleman approached Allen and offered to record him that night. Allen explained that it was midnight and he was already running on an unhealthy shortage of sleep, but something made him agree to the gentleman’s offer. In his words “I thought it would be an opportunity to make a new friend and a new memory.” He went on to describe the sessions as being almost miraculous. The outcome, “Take It Easy”, is 11 tracks of music in its purest form. Allen blends elements of folk, rock, punk, and gospel to form his own unique sound. His gritty, melodic low tenor guides you through the tracks like the chapters of a book, each one revealing more about the protagonist as the story progresses.
Certain tracks stand out, like the brilliantly written “Arizona”, an apparent opus to the road. Other stand outs are “Glad Tidings” and “Stand By Me” both of which are double time numbers that have a distinctive feel to them that makes them addictively catchy. The tracks that really leave their mark, though, are ones like “Ambulance”, “On With the Show”, and “Let’s Get Together” that are slow burning folk songs that have a very soulful quality. They’re very profound and delivered in a fassion that drips with emotion but still with an incredible pop sensibility.
Nate Allen is an artist’s artist. He is the purest form of musicianship I’ve ever seen and I truly believe that his music is that of a lyrical intellect beyond his years. His album is free for download on him website, http://www.destroynateallen.com and I recommend getting it.