If the last name sounds familiar, it should. Nathan McEuen is the son of John McEuen, one of the founding members of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – who also appears on the song, “Banjormous.” Nathan, like his father, takes an eclectic approach to his music, drawing on rock, pop, and country – even a little bit of blues. The use of banjo, fiddle and mandolin point mainly towards country, but the album lands more on the pop and folk side of things.
In preparing for this review, I saw comparisons to Neil Young and Paul Simon. I guess I could see that in terms of the approach, but the overall sound begs other comparisons — Derek Webb, perhaps. Like Webb, McEuen has enough pop sense that much of this would fit pretty well in the Adult Contemporary format, even though this is more independently minded than that might indicate.
Most of the songs are about love one way or another, which makes the songs tend to run together a little bit lyrically, but the music is the bigger draw anyway. The production does a nice job of emphasizing the rhythms of McEuen’s songs, and it’s hard not to move when the album’s playing.
The release itself is an interesting idea. Every song started on a portable recorder while McEuen was on the road and was then finished in a studio. The sound is much more cohesive than you might expect. It’s a nice release, and it makes me curious of things to come from Nathan McEuen –- like next year’s “Scrapbook Sessions.”