The crass first track on Nathan K‘s Methodist Girls is a phenomenal authentic engagement with life as it’s lived. He realized that his love was “the selfish kind.” It’s not exactly the kind of track that you’ll want to share with the whole family, but it will engage many folks on the Gen-Y and Millennial border. But it’s a nice welcome to Nathan K, an honest and at times jarring singer songwriter. His sound is unique, with a reverb-laden familiar sounding voice. Start to finish, though, Methodist Girls is the kind of album we think of when we say “indie singer songwriter.” I couldn’t pass it up.
After the explicit “Sloppy Love,” the following “Paulding Light” is still reflective on a relationship, but does so with a different tact and focus. “I was looking for something that you didn’t have.” Lyrically it’s powerful and baldly sincere. It leads into a wonderfully simple “Temporary” that, like all good songwriters, makes the listener think about ordinary things in life with extraordinary insight. It’s an existential track, questioning the temporal nature of humanity. I’m not sure how deeply philosophical Nathan K intended it to be, but it sure strikes a chord with the nostalgic tendency of people to view life retrospectively. It is a story – even a sermon – more than a song (and that’s okay).
“Happier Things” has a fun electro beat and a bit more of an upbeat style overall. Nathan K’s vocals are still melancholic, but he finds hope in the relationship he seeks. He wants to be “closer to you… If I had a hundred wishes I trade them all away for just one day with you.” Awww how cute. It’s a sappy romantic track that should show up on the soundtrack for someone’s film festival entry. Seriously, get on that creative people.
“Most Birthdays” is the single from the album and is, frankly, head and shoulders better than some of the other tracks. The lead vocal is sincere and strong. The guitar (maybe steel guitar?) in the background gives it a sweet, intimate feeling. Again playing on nostalgia, Nathan K reflects on how birthdays don’t feel the same as an adult. It’s something we’ve all thought about, but this song captures the emotions so extremely well. It seems like another generationally-perfect track.
“Family Photo” is probably the first song that I could put into the conversation with George Jones’s “The Grand Tour” in terms of sheer sadness. Although less tragic, it has the palpable sense of loss of his father in it. Nathan K’s songwriting style is so raw and authentic in the way that he engages with emotions, both positive and negative. “But the memories remain as crystal clear as day…” That’s what makes this song so completely wonderful. He not only acknowledges the pain of the memory – he also comments on the joy of the good times. What a beautiful grief this is…
“Calendar Pages” has great guitar work and a clever premise. It’s about the pain of waiting to see someone. It’s so easy to relate to for anyone who’s been in a long distance relationship. “Telephones” is an anthem of unrequited love and it’s exceptional. The lead vocal is similar to the rest of the album, but there’s a sort of spark to it. It’s tragic and hopeful all at once. It’s maybe the best single performance on the album, capturing an emotion that hits pretty close to home for me. It’s rare when an artist can do that so candidly and so well.
For a final existential flourish, Nathan finishes the album with a song about loneliness and moving on after rejection. His line, “Shining brightly in my eyes you woke me up to realize that these moments come and go just like the wind, the rain, the sun, and the snow” is some of the best writing on the album. “This game is over but my life has just begun.” This should be playing on the ipods of pretty much every college student in the world. Seriously who do you know that can’t relate to moving on after a recently-ended relationship?
Nathan K is a gifted songwriter because of how he can capture real life in simple, profound words. His songs are comforting at times, but also pretty jarring. He has the ability to make you say “yeah, I’ve been there” to complex emotions of rejection, pain, heartache, loss, but also joy and happiness. His musicianship is good and his voice suits his messages, but when it’s all together it’s very evident that he has something special here. I’m happy I could share him with you and hope that you will give his album the chance it deserves. Don’t be offended by “Sloppy Love.” Let the message of the song get to you and it will shape the way you listen to the rest of the album. Fans of indie singer songwriters will love this album. Nathan K embodies the genre.